Brother completes epic trek from London to Wickham to help seriously-ill sisters in care home

THE brother of two women battling a rare incurable brain disease pushed his body to breaking point in a valiant bid to raise much-needed cash for life-saving research.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 9:51 am
Rear: Robert Crandon, 34, and Harry Carney, 35, and Andrew Hughes after completing their epic three-day "bike and hike" from London to Wickham. They are pictured with Andrew's sister, Sarah Coller, who has Huntington's Disease. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Andrew Hughes trekked from London to his sisters’ care home - Wickham’s Winscombe Care Home, in Southwick Road - as part of a three-and-half-day trek.

Accompanied by his pals Robert Crandon, 34, and Harry Carney, 35, the trio of adventurers set off on Thursday, cycling about 45 miles to Burgess Hill before then walking the remaining 60 miles over the South Downs to Wickham.

They eventually stumbled across the finishing line on Sunday afternoon where Andrew was able to see his two older sisters, mum-of-two Lucy Chewins and Sarah Coller, face-to-face for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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Lucy Chewins, pictured welcoming her brother and his friends to Wickham’s Winscombe Care Home on Sunday. Photo: Sam Stephenson

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The effort drummed up more than £2,000 to fund research into Huntington’s Disease, an incurable, hereditary illness that damages brain cells, affecting movement, cognitive ability and mood – a disease that both Lucy and Sarah have been battling with for about 20 years.

Speaking to The News after the event, Andrew, 36, said: ‘It was very, very hard – especially in the heart. It was extremely difficult. We just soldiered on.

‘The worst part of it was the blisters though. I’ve never had blisters like it. I couldn’t walk for two days afterwards.’

Crashed out: two of the three fundraisers collapse to the floor after completing the final leg of their "bike and hike" trek from London to Wickham. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Andrew was greeted by his proud mum, Pam Battley, along with care home staff, friends and other members of his family.

Pam said: ‘I was in awe of them. It was amazing. I was so proud of all of them.’

She added Huntington’s had devastated her family, with her late ex-husband Peter Coller having been diagnosed with it before he died.

‘The illness is absolutely devastating,’ said Pam, 68. ‘You can’t imagine how bad it is. My ex-husband had it and there was a 50/50 chance Lucy and Sarah would get it. So we knew what was coming when they were diagnosed. It just absolutely floors you.’

Andrew, who has previously tackled a skydive for the Huntington’s Disease Association, said seeing his sisters after a year of lockdown had been bittersweet.

‘This was the first time I had seen my sisters since February last year,’ he said. ‘ It was a very long time and it was lovely to see them. But in that year they have deteriorated so much, it was heartbreaking to see.’

Andrew, of Burgess Hill, hopes to tackle a marathon with his wife Billie, in the future to raise more cash for charity.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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