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Entrepreneur raises £1,800 in aid of Parkinson’s UK Cymru with epic Machu Picchu climb

Sam Williams on Machu Picchu

An entrepreneur has raised £1,800 in aid of Parkinson’s UK Cymru, with an epic climb up Machu Picchu, in the Peruvian Andes.

Founder of Sizzle Marketing, Sam Williams, from Pontypool, whose dad has the condition, trekked for four days to get to the iconic 15th-century Inca citadel.

The 27-year-old marketing consultant said the journey, to what is often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, which is located on a 2,430-metre mountain ridge was “tough”, especially when the high altitude made it “harder to breathe”.

His dad, Mark Williams, 60, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 16 years ago, and Sam has said that he has been inspired by his efforts to keep physically active.

The former St Albans High School pupil, who got an undergraduate and a master’s degree in business and marketing at Bangor University, said he decided to raise money for Parkinson’s UK Cymru because of the work the charity does funding research into the condition.

Sam said: “You get to the highest point of the journey, which is 4,215 metres, on the second day. When you get to that point you think ‘okay, this is an achievement in terms of the altitude’, because it was tough.

“It was definitely harder to breathe. Somebody in our group needed oxygen when we were coming down from it so it was serious stuff.

“On the second day when I was climbing the steepest point, that’s when I was thinking of the charity the most. That was when I was having to keep pushing on and the charity was motivating me because it was difficult. We walked for 12 hours that day and it was mostly uphill, and it was also very high up.

“To arrive a couple of days later at Machu Picchu was a great feeling of achievement. It was amazing to see this archeological site in the middle of nowhere. It’s a whole city built on a mountain.

“Unfortunately it was absolutely hammering down with rain when we arrived, but this was a common theme of the trip. Thankfully it cleared up enough for a few good photos. By the time you get there you don’t really care about the rain because you’ve already been soaked so many times, and being from Wales I am very used to it. The views are insane and Machu Picchu was really impressive.

“You can feel where you are. It’s surreal. I can’t really describe it. You’ve seen it in photos but it’s so much more different when you get there. It’s so much bigger. You see all the intricacies they’ve built.

“Even though it was raining heavily it wasn’t flooding at all. The systems were built to fill water reserves, not to flood, and it’s still working perfectly to this day.

“You’re looking around and you’re just surrounded by mountains. It was also great to learn about the Inca history because I wasn’t clued up on that at all.

“My dad says he’s very proud of me for completing it. He says he wishes he could go himself.”

He added: “I wanted to raise money for charity because Parkinson’s has affected my dad and my family. Parkinson’s UK Cymru seemed like the obvious cause to do the climb for because it’s something close to me.

“Having Parkinson’s makes every task more tough to complete. Things we take for granted become difficult to do.

“My dad still walks the dog every day so he’s keeping active and fighting on. He still goes out in the community and he’ll do a run every now and again. Keeping active is important to him. These things are linked and that is why I’m doing a physical challenge for him.

“The main reason I chose Parkinson’s UK to raise money for is the research element. They’re trying to develop more effective treatments, and hopefully one day they’ll even find a cure. I’d like to thank everyone that has donated so far.

“Parkinson’s affects the person who has it the most, but it doesn’t only affect them. It affects everyone around them too. It can be tough but we keep a positive outlook, which is perfectly demonstrated by my dad.”

Keri McKie, Regional Fundraiser for Parkinson’s UK Cymru said: “What Sam did to raise money for Parkinson’s UK Cymru was amazing. It’s a fantastic achievement and we’re very grateful to him for his efforts.

“Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, and currently there is no cure. But as the largest European charitable funder of Parkinson’s research, we’re determined to change that.

“We’ve invested over £100m in vital research that has delivered groundbreaking discoveries, new medications and better care.

“The money that has been donated will go towards improving the lives of people who have Parkinson’s and funding important research into the condition which has the potential to lead to better treatments.”