To his daughter Beatrice, Andrew Howden is already a hero.
Now the 37-year-old is hoping to become an IronMan, too, as he
prepares to take part in a gruelling endurance competition in
Germany this summer.
Andrew's daughter Beatrice, now three years and five months old,
was diagnosed with Type Two Spinal Muscular Astrophy (SMA) in July
2010. The rare genetic disease prevents signals from Beatrice's
brain reaching her muscles, meaning she will never be able to
To give Beatrice the freedom other children enjoy, Andrew and
his wife Amy, from Whitley, North Yorkshire, have bought a powered
wheelchair. The NHS does not fund them for children under five, so
the family have had to pay more than £20,000 - a cost that will
have to be repeated every five years as the chair is replaced.
Andrew, also father to one year old Henry, said: "The NHS has
been great with Beatrice and given her fantastic care but
unfortunately they couldn't help with funding for the wheelchair
she needed because of her age.
"We managed to buy the chair but it is far from a one-off cost
and we will have to raise money continually to ensure Beatrice can
get about, and we also need to adapt our garden for her."
Andrew has decided to try to complete the challenging IronMan
triathlon in Regensburg, Germany this June to raise money for the
Get Beatrice Mobile campaign. The event consists of a 2.4 mile
swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon run - all in
the space of 16 hours, and without a break.
Andrew's training was given a boost when Askern Leisure Centre
in Doncaster, where Beatrice is a regular swimmer, gave him free
use of the pool.
Andrew said: "The staff there have been great, both before and
after Beatrice's diagnosis, and she really enjoys getting in the
water. In fact, she has been going since before she was born, while
Amy was pregnant with her!"
Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust's Kraig Kelly said: "We are
delighted to be helping Andrew in his preparations for the IronMan
triathlon. Beatrice puts a smile on everyone's face at Askern
Leisure Centre and we are always keen to help people in their
efforts to raise money for such fantastic causes."
The German event will be Andrew's second attempt to complete an
IronMan triathlon. Andrew said: "I entered the IronMan triathlon in
Wales last year but the conditions were very harsh and I was
advised by a race marshal to stop 92 miles into the bike leg. I
have picked myself up though and I have been training hard with my
club, the Bridgtown Cona Testa Triathlon Team. Hopefully I will be
able to finish this time in Regensburg."
German company Xdream Sports have paid Andrew's entry fee for
the triathlon while Nirvana Europe Ltd are covering his travel and
accommodation costs. Andrew has also received support from Cannock
based Bridgtown Cycles, but he continues to seek public sponsorship
for his effort to complete the course.
Whether Andrew finishes the triathlon or not, Beatrice will
still be smiling. Andrew said: "Despite her SMA Beatrice is a very
happy little girl and a bundle of joy. She enjoys doing all the
things other children do, so we are raising money to make sure that
she can continue to do so."
The 2012 IronMan takes place on June 17 in the Bavarian city of
Regensburg, and will be Andrew's latest triathlon. He recently
completed the Primera Swashbuckler Triathlon in Hampshire.