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‘Christopher’s Champions’: Pedal Paddle Peak challenge in memory of son and brother 

On 6 July, Nick Shaw and his son Alex are taking on Pedal Paddle Peak in the Lake District, which involves a 30-mile cycle, two-mile canoe paddle and climbing to the peak of Helvellyn mountain. The team of four, ‘Christopher’s Champions’, also includes Nick’s school friend James Sturt-Scobie and his son Will. They are taking on the challenge in memory of Nick’s son and Alex’s brother, Christopher, who lived with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and died in March 2023 aged 27. Nick explains why Pedal Paddle Peak is a fitting tribute to his son Christopher’s memory.   

Christopher loved travelling and being out in the countryside, despite all the challenges that typically entailed.

The Lake District was one of many places that he visited on multiple occasions so when my son Alex and I both saw an email about this challenge for Muscular Dystrophy UK, we knew we wanted to do it. It wasn’t difficult to persuade my friend James and his son to join us and make up a team of four! 

Christopher was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was 15 months’ old. My wife Rachel had been taking him to toddler classes, and someone there noticed that his movements were different to other children his age and suggested we took him for some tests. We weren’t sure what to expect but the tests showed an absence of dystrophin protein and after a biopsy the consultant confirmed that Christopher had Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I remember that day really clearly. As Duchenne has no cure and we knew it would impact Christopher’s mobility and life-expectancy, from that point on we decided that we just had to make the most of life. 

Christopher loved travelling  

Christopher was a cheeky, happy little boy and, as a family, we travelled a lot together when he was young – everywhere from the USA to Egypt and Australia. But things got harder as Christopher got older. He was in a wheelchair from the age of 12 and travelling became more complicated as we needed to consider how accessible places were. We still made sure that we had great experiences as a family though, spending time in the south of France regularly as well as breaks in Cornwall and the Lake District. Christopher was always asking ‘where are we going this year, Dad?’ He loved travelling. 

Despite the progression of his condition during childhood and teenage years, Christopher remained positive, and he achieved his GCSEs, A Levels and a degree in Illustration. He enjoyed playing video games with his brother and us spending time together as a family. 

Christopher on holiday in Cornwall

Raising money for a cause close to our hearts  

I’ve taken on running challenges for Muscular Dystrophy UK before – the Great North Run and triathlons – but this is the first time I’ve done something like this, and it’s Alex’s first fundraising challenge for the charity. It has been a real incentive to keep fit while also raising money for a cause close to our hearts.  

As ‘Christopher’s Champions’, Alex, James, Will and I are hoping to complete Pedal Paddle Peak in under nine hours. We’ve been training for the pedal and peak aspects, but the paddle is going to be the hardest part of the challenge I think, as that’s the bit we haven’t really been able to train for.  

We want to raise as much as we can so that the charity can continue to fund groundbreaking research as well as providing support for individuals and families living with muscle wasting conditions. 

You can support ‘Christopher’s Champions’ here.  

Get involved

If you’ve been inspired by Nick’s story and would like to take on a similar challenge, there are spaces available for Pedal Paddle Peak – Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) in September. Or find out about other upcoming events and challenges.

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