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Jersey's caped crusader tackles Superhero Triathlon to raise funds for veterans

Friday 10 August 2018

Jersey's caped crusader tackles Superhero Triathlon to raise funds for veterans

Not all heroes were capes, but seven-year-old Harry de Gruchy certainly deserves one. The little boy, who has special needs, will be travelling to Dorney Lake next weekend to take part in the Superhero Triathlon in a bid to raise money for Holidays for Heroes Jersey.

Harry, who will be dressing up as Batman with his mum, Cirsty, as his trusty sidekick, is entering his final week of training for the event which includes a 150m swim, a 3k cycle and a 1k run.

The Superhero Triathlon is for people with disabilities, and the mother-son pair will be competing against paralympians, Invictus Games athletes and everyday superheroes with disabilities. The event will be a real team effort for the pair as Cirsty will be towing Harry in the dinghy for the swim and possibly pushing him in a running buggy for the walk. Harry will tackle the cycle on his own and has been training really hard for it.

The little boy, who goes to Mont a L’Abbé school, has, "...considerable problems which affect all parts of his everyday life," as his mum explains. Rather than being held back by his condition, he loves being active and is very competitive.

Video: Harry was the subject of a video by the Jersey Childcare Trust.

"When I heard about the Triathlon through some of the ‘Heroes’ on holiday with Holidays for Heroes Jersey, I thought it was a great idea," Cirsty says. "I don't want his disability to prevent him from doing anything. Also we don't know what the future holds for him so I want him to do things now when he can do them."

Last year, Harry took part in the Children in Need Team Rickshaw challenge by cycling three miles over a month and raised over £3000.

Cirsty says: "This in itself was a huge physical achievement as Harry had only just started riding his special trike on his own weeks before. Since then he has developed a love for swimming, cycling and running and so the triathlon seemed a good idea.

Harry de Gruchy

Pictured: Harry started cycling on his own last year.

"He is a very, very active boy. I am just trying to keep him entertained. He needs lots of stimulation and I just point in the right direction really. He has been cycling quite a bit over the last year. He also swims three or four times a week. This is quite a physical challenge for Harry but we have been training over the last few months and he is now really excited!"

Cirsty is no stranger to sporting challenges either and admits the whole family is quite sporty. She herself has taken part in three half marathons and even tackled the London Marathon earlier this year. "I started running last year," she explained. "I think it's probably Harry that go me into it. My next challenge, after some rest, will be the Jersey Marathon."  

Harry de Gruchy Stephanie Slater

Pictured: Harry and Cirsty will take part in the Celebrity Relay team with Stephanie Slater.

Their next challenge will however be made special by the fact they will have been chosen to be in a relay celebrity team with Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Slater.  They will cover a second 150m swim, on top of the one included in the triathlon, with Slater. Cirsty says: "There were over 200 applicants and only 50 places or so so it was a big surprise to be selected for the relay. 

"It should be quite an exciting day really. We haven't met Stephanie yet but we chatted on Twitter. I am sure on the day we will get to speak with her and also meet lots of incredible people."

Harry and Cirsty de Gruchy

Pictured: Harry and Cirsty have been training for months for the triathlon.

Harry and Cirsty decided to raise funds for Holiday for Heroes Jersey as part of their triathlon. Cirsty explained: "Harry loves to swim at the Merton. We are members there and we go four times a week sometimes. When swimming there, we have met so many incredible people who had come to the island with Holidays for Heroes. We have heard first hand the amazing work they do and met so many families. We wanted to do something in aid of them and the incredible work they do."

The charity's colours are a perfect fit with that of Harry's favourite superhero, whom he will impersonating for the triathlon. "I asked him what superhero he wanted to dress up as for the event," says Cirsty. "Batman kept on coming up so that's what we are going with. Harry is the superhero and I am his sidekick." 

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