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A mountainous effort as student Andy trains to tackle Everest

Date 11.11.2020

Surviving a severe stroke was just a walk in the park for one intrepid student whose remarkable recovery continues as he prepares to trek more than halfway up the world’s tallest mountain.

Sport and Exercise Science student Andy Ibbott will tackle Mount Everest next year as part of a personal campaign to increase awareness about stroke condition aphasia and raise money for a charity he is passionate about.

Andy was undergoing a routine operation in 2011 when he suffered the stroke. He spent the next six months in various hospitals for recovery and rehabilitation.

The stroke meant he has partial paralysis on his right side and aphasia, an impairment of language that affects the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write.

Never one to look back or stand still, Andy has completed several self-directed projects that support his continuing rehab efforts and his campaigning work.

These include public speaking stints, appearing in BBC programme ‘Employable Me’, walking part of the gruelling Marathon de Sable in the Sahara desert and writing and getting published an update of a book he penned years before about his passion – motorcycle racing.

For his next challenge – in May next year – Andy will trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. The journey will see him take on 5,364m of the world’s tallest peak above sea level (its total height is 8,848m).

The experience will be completed in 15 days and will take Andy through Sherpa villages and some of the most spectacular views on the planet.

His preparation includes a fitness and exercise regime tailored to his condition and physical needs. He completes daily gym sessions (now moved online due to the second lockdown) to develop his leg strength and increase the strength on his stronger, left side and also walks at least five miles each day.

He hopes to up that to 20 miles a day, all of which means a temporary halt to his degree studies which he will restart in September 2021.

His aim is to raise £10,000 for the charity Riders for Health, a network of motorcycle riding healthcare professionals who deliver supplies to regions of Africa.

Andy said: “One minute I was at the top of my game. The next, I couldn’t walk or talk and had to rely on others when I’d previously been so independent. It might sound odd to anyone other than a biker, but even more depressing was the fact I could no longer ride bikes or coach others to do the same – I felt suicidal.

“But I knew I had to keep moving; I refused and still refuse to give in or give up and for the past decade, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

“Sometimes people say they admire me for what I’ve done during that time, but it’s just me as I ‘keep on keeping on.’ Riders for Health are the ones who deserve our admiration, so I hope people can spare a few quid to put towards bikers who literally go extra miles to help people.”

Saul Cuttell, Senior Lecturer in Sport Science, added: “It’s great to see that Andy’s commitment and dedication to training for his epic trek next year match the input he gives to everything.

“As a student who has been learning all the requirements of training, such as physiology, psychology and fitness training, he has the unique opportunity to put in to practise his knowledge and skills in those areas.

“His story is already amazing and truly inspiring. His courage and determination to keep on going and to support other people with aphasia is just what we are used to seeing from him.”

Donate to Andy’s charity here.

Find out more about Sports degrees (undergraduate) at the University of Northampton.