Soldier’s gruelling tribute to father he lost

The son of former Ferndown Mayor Steve Lugg, who died of cancer aged just 54, has completed a punishing physical challenge in memory of his father. Rhys Lugg, 29, ran four miles, every four hours over a 48-hour period, carrying 20kg – the equivalent weight of a four-year old child on his back.

Rhys, a soldier in the Household Cavalry Regiment, completed the challenge while on base at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire last month and has so far raised £2,889 for Macmillan Caring Locally and the military mental health charity Head Up.

He said: “The run challenged me mentally as well as physically as it brought back some raw emotions of my Dad’s battle with cancer. I wanted to do something to pay tribute to his amazing courage and strength and to also help the Macmillan Unit in Christchurch where he was so excellently cared for in his final days. And every time it got tough, Dad was all I had to think about and I was good again.”

The Macmillan Unit, based in the grounds of Christchurch Hospital, provides palliative care and support for over 1600 people and their families every year and is supported by the Macmillan Caring Locally charity.

“Dad was comfortable at the Mac Unit and we were catered for as a complete family. The team there takes a huge burden off you all, making those last moments bearable.”

Rhys took the idea for his gruelling ‘4x4x48 challenge’ from a book by former Navy Seal Dave Goggins and upped the pressure by adding 20kg to simulate the burden of mental health and cancer. Running every four hours with his increasingly painful load, he battled all weathers and burned over 15,000 calories during the 48-hour period.

Rhys’s father Steve also served in the Army, as a Yeoman of The Queen’s Guard. He went on to become a tireless campaigner for Ferndown and Dorset, working for Bournemouth Social Services before becoming chief executive of the Hampshire Association of Local Councils in 2005 and later serving as a town and county councillor and then Mayor. Steve was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuro Endocrine Cancer in April 2018 and passed away just four months later.

Rhys said: “It was a rare cancer and took him quickly. It was really tough for me to wrap my head around. He had such a huge personality and I always valued his wisdom and guidance, so I struggled terribly with the loss”.

“Mental health affects us all and it’s even more prevalent during Covid, so by taking on this huge challenge for myself I wanted to show that through tough times you can pull through and even achieve great things.”

Rhys aimed to raise £1600, but has already shattered that target and hopes more people will sponsor him.

“I’ve been absolutely staggered by people’s generosity, both in our home town of Ferndown and further afield,” he said. “I know some people who donated don’t have much at all. But it just goes to show that even in hard times we will pull together.”

Neal Williams, Trust Secretary of Macmillan Caring Locally, said: “I am constantly taken aback by the lengths our supporters will go for us and Rhys’s courage and determination is simply breathtaking. He is a credit to himself, his dad and the Army.”

Rhys can still be sponsored here.