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Group take on Yorkshire Three Peaks in memory of school friend

3 April 2024

On Saturday 20 April, nine friends are taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks in memory of their school friend, Simon Mirfin, who lived with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) and died on 27 September 2023, aged 46. One of Simon’s friends, Mukesh Patel, explains why they’re taking on the challenge.

There are nine, maybe more, of us taking on this challenge in Simon’s memory. We’ve known each other for over three decades, having met at school, but most of us lost contact over the years as life took us in different directions. While we didn’t stay in touch as a group, each of us remained in regular contact with Simon. He was the connection.

It took the sad occasion of Simon’s funeral to bring us all together again and when we got talking, we decided we wanted to do something for him and that is when we came up with the idea to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

It never stopped him doing everything he wanted to do

Simon was diagnosed with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) when he was 11 years’ old, but it never stopped him from doing everything he wanted to do. I first met Simon in Junior School, so before his diagnosis. Sport was his life from a young age. I remember us getting home from school, changing our clothes then heading straight onto the field for hours of football, with the traditional jumpers on the grass for goal posts! He was a huge Manchester United fan, but also loved reading and spending time with family and friends. He was so knowledgeable about many different subjects – I think that’s why we all loved spending time with him. He was intelligent, forever optimistic, and full of wit and humour.  

Simon started to lose his mobility in his early teens, but it worsened from the age of 20 and he was in a wheelchair at the age of 26. His family received help and advice from Muscular Dystrophy UK, which enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of the condition and provided advice for ongoing support, future care needs and equipment that would help Simon to lead the best independent life.

Simon’s dad, Stephen Mirfin said: “Simon’s friends are taking on a big challenge to do the Three Peaks in his honour. This fundraising for Muscular Dystrophy UK follows the kindness of the many who came to Simon’s funeral and donated to the charity on that day too. The funeral gathering prompted the friends to honour Simon and take on a challenge together to raise further funds.”

“My wife and I have total respect for all of them as it’s not an easy challenge they’ve chosen to do. Support for their fundraising has already amazed us and we will be there on the day to see them off and welcome them back to the finish line. It will be a tough and emotional day that will be shared by many.”

Simon would laugh at the idea of us doing this

We’ve been training for the last three months, meeting regularly for walks together. On the day of the challenge, we’ll be taking on the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – a 24-mile round trip, including 1,585m of ascent, in under 12 hours.

I’m sure that Simon would laugh at the prospect of his ‘old’ friends doing this, but it has brought us together and now we intend to continue walking after the challenge.

We’ve set ourselves a target to raise £5,000, but we also want to help increase awareness of muscular dystrophy in Simon’s memory, to leave a legacy for our friend.

Follow the team’s challenge at justgiving.com/team/simonmirfin

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