Leeds man with rare heart condition to walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks in memory of his dad

A Leeds man living with an inherited heart condition will climb Yorkshire’s highest peaks in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), in memory of his dad who was also diagnosed with the condition.

By Richard Beecham
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 11:45 am

Matthew Springthorpe will scale the Yorkshire Three Peaks in aid of the BHF’s research – and is now urging others to sign up to the event.

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in 2013. The condition makes the muscle walls of the heart become stretched and thin, resulting in the heart not being able to pump blood around the body properly.

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Matthew wants to raise money for the BHF.

Matthew inherited the condition from his dad, Martin, who was diagnosed with DCM after collapsing in his garden. Because the condition can be hereditary, Matthew later underwent genetic screening and further tests. This confirmed that he also had the condition, and he was diagnosed aged 23.

More recently, Matthew was told that the condition was causing life-threatening heart rhythms. He was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to help regulate abnormal rhythms - especially those that can be dangerous and cause a cardiac arrest.

“My cardiologist told me I was at high risk of sudden death, which was just shocking to hear,” said Matthew, who lives in Morley. “I had a 24-hour ECG, which found that whilst I slept, my heart rate would go really low. I was then told I’d need to have an ICD fitted.

“I’ve always been a fairly active person, so I’ve had to adapt to living with an ICD. I loved sports and going to the gym, but it put a question mark over how much I could do.”

In 2020, Matthew’s father passed away aged just 57 due to an infection, which caused further strain on his heart.

Matthew, a charity worker, added: “Losing my dad is something that still impacts me to this day. It’s something you don’t understand until you go through it.

“We were very close and had lots in common – I could talk to him about anything, and he was always a great support.”

After being fitted with an ICD, Matthew was inspired to support the BHF and set himself a challenge each year in aid of the charity. Last year, he completed the Great North Run – and in July, he will take on the BHF’s 2022 Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.

“I’m fairly confident about it and have a training plan already,” said Matthew. “Before I was fitted with an ICD, I was always competitive – I would do parkruns and always aim for the best time. But the ICD has given me a rain check and made me realise that it’s not about the finish time, it’s about the finish line.

“I know my dad would want me to complete it and would be cheering me across the line. I hope to raise as much money as I can for the BHF, to help fund new treatments and discover new cures through research.”

The BHF’s Yorkshire Three Peaks will see participants follow a route that starts and ends in Horton-on-Ribblesdale, taking on the three highest peaks in Yorkshire: Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. They will also trek through the heart of some of the UK’s most majestic scenery, including the famous Ribblehead Viaduct.

Entry includes a hot dinner after the trek, along with a BHF technical top, snacks and refreshments along the way. Participants will also receive a medal for their efforts.

And those taking part will also raise money towards the BHF’s life saving research into conditions like heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia, and their risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Jake Kavaliauskas, event lead for the BHF’s Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, said: “We can’t wait to welcome Matthew to our event in July and hope he’s as excited as us to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

“The trek will cover 24 miles and 5,000 feet of ascends over the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. But it will all be for a good cause, as the money raised by people like Matthew will help fund the BHF’s ground breaking science to save and improve more lives.

“We now need more people to sign up to this event to help power our life saving research.”

People can choose to take part in the event on either Saturday, July 23 or Sunday, July 24.

To find out more or to enter, visit www.bhf.org.uk/y3p. To sponsor Matthew, visit www.justgiving.com/matthew-springthorpe3