Friends and family are set to embark on a gruelling challenge in aid of a man who has been paralysed by brain and spinal cord tumours.
Tom Walker, 37, who grew up in Rhosddu and Borras, is paralysed from the chest down after developing tumours in his brain and spinal cord.
His brother David, 39, and old friends Simon Morait, Lee Davies, Russell Hardy, Richard Hughes, Ian Jones and Craig Tudor, will ride 125 miles from Rhosnesni High School to the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, where Tom works as a leisure membership sales manager.
Tom achieved a rugby scholarship in Llandovery at the age of 15 before playing for and studying at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff.
He also made 164 appearances for Llandovery RFC between 2001 to 2009, and was part of the Welsh Cup-winning side in 2007.
In January 2016 Tom was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering a spell of headaches and vertigo, and underwent a successful operation at UHW Cardiff followed by six weeks of radiotherapy.
He made a strong recovery and returned to work, but subsequently he suffered further symptoms, and by the beginning of 2017 there was another suspected tumour at the top of his spine.
An operation determined that the tumour was inside the spinal cord, and therefore the operation was unsuccessful.
Further investigation also considered that the mass could also be scar tissue resulting from the radiotherapy.
Tom deteriorated quite quickly, losing use of his legs, and underwent treatment to reduce the swelling in his spinal cord.
While the treatment he received helped alleviate swelling in the cord, the symptoms did not improve, and tests recently confirmed that the tumour is present in the spinal cord and also depositing in the brain.
Tom – who lives in Ystrad Mynach with wife Jackie and sons Ollie, nine, and Finlay, five – is now paralysed from the chest down, with weakening of the upper limbs.
As a result, he has not walked or stood unaided for some time, relying solely on a motorised wheelchair to get around.
He is receiving chemotherapy and is based at Ystrad Mynach Hospital, and the family want to raise funds towards adapting his home to improve accessibility and give him greater independence.
Of his brother, David, of Rossett, said: “He’s remarkably upbeat and positive and I haven’t seen this get the best of him yet.
“He’s doing really well and he’s definitely putting a braver face on it than I could have done.”
The family will need around £12,000 to fund alterations to their home and for a specialised van for Tom.
An online donation page has raised £1,220 so far towards a £5,000 target.
David said that Celtic Manor has held several events, including a bake sale and a static bike ride, while friends from Tom’s rugby days are set to walk across the Brecon Beacons to raise funds.
Of the support Tom has received so far, David said: “I know my brother is overwhelmed by the amount of support that has come in and the things people are willing to do for him.
“He’s very humbled by it all.”
To support Tom, visit www.gofundme.com/TourForTom.