Senior Boys teacher celebrates 40th with 40 fundraising challenges to thank the NHS
Simon Cripps, from Berkshire, has taken on 40 fundraising challenges to mark his 40th birthday.
Mr Cripps, an English teacher at Senior Boys, has now raised over £10,000 for NHS charities as part of 40 challenges. Challenges have included a gruelling 100km walk around Berkshire taking around 18 hours, rowing the equivalent of the Channel, climbing the equivalent of the Three Peaks challenge (45,000 stairs), as well as creative challenges that other members of the community have joined in with.
He has reason to thank the NHS and wanted to show his appreciation by raising money. In 2000, Mr Cripps was playing rugby for Harlequins U21s but when they did not have a game, he turned out for his home team, Maidenhead RFC. He was out celebrating scoring five tries in Maidenhead’s victory over local rivals Marlow when he suffered a life changing accident.
He said: “I was decked out in not one but three grass skirts tied together to cover my ‘substantial posterior’ during a fun night in Amersham but it went horribly wrong. Someone decided it would be amusing to set fire to the skirts but, unable to remove them, I ran out into the night, where fuelled by oxygen, the flames took hold. A teammate rugby tackled me and smothered the flames with a jacket. I had suffered burns to 43% of my body and had life-threatening injuries.”
Initially not expected to survive the night, Simon promised his father that he intended to live. After ten days on life support at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, with the help of NHS doctors, nurses and physios he made good that promise. It looked unlikely that he would walk or use his hands as he once had, let alone play rugby again.
Seven months later, he ran out leading the team at Maidenhead onto the pitch, with a standing ovation from the crowd. He says: “Playing the game I loved again with the team that had supported me every day, standing out there with the crowd applause I certainly shed a tear.”
Mr Cripps’ father was at the time an NHS dentist, his mother an NHS nurse and his younger sister has since become an NHS GP. His wife, Cara is also an NHS physio who has been working on the frontline during the coronavirus crisis.
Simon added: “At Stoke Mandeville I had an amazing doctor, Mike Tyler, unbelievable nurses and brilliant physios who saved my life and put me back together.
“As I was approaching 40 years old in April, I realised how hard all the NHS staff were working to save the lives of the nation and put it back together. I wanted to do something meaningful for them, both in thanks for their help for me in the past and all of us in the present crisis. So I launched a 40 for 40 fundraiser for NHS Charities and I’m incredibly proud and grateful for all of the support in my attempt to remember and appreciate just how amazing our NHS staff are.”
“My daughters Emilia, four years old, and Olivia, two years old, keep adding new challenges. Some of the 40 are sporting endeavours like a half marathon ending at Maidenhead Rugby Club, where I help train pupils from Claires Court on a daily basis. Some were more arts and craft based challenges, including making rainbows with my children for the NHS heroes.”
Mr Cripps has even had the support of England Rugby team coach Eddie Jones through a message on Twitter, available here.