A Yeovil father inspired by his sick child to complete a gruelling open-water challenge has described how his son’s battle helped him all the way.
Three-year-old Isaac Flory returned to Bristol Royal Infirmary on Wednesday for his fourth eight-day course of intensive chemotherapy after being diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year.
Parents Nik and Claire have been ever-present at Isaac’s bedside during his treatment, with friends, family and colleagues from Yeovil-based hardware supplier Screwfix rallying to raise funds for the young family.
On Saturday, Mr Flory – manager of Toolstation Western League club Chard Town – travelled to Scotland to complete the Isle of Cumbrae to Largs annual open-water charity swim for the Gillian Saltire Appeal.
The appeal has chosen Clic Sargent as its chosen charity for 2012, meaning Mr Flory’s efforts in helping to raise more than £5,700 – along with two other fathers with sick children – will help benefit youngsters similar to his own.
Mr Flory, aged 37, completed the challenge in two hours despite having had no training to tackle the icy waters, jellyfish, passing tankers and four-feet waves.
“Every stroke hurt but there was no way I was going to stop,” he said. “It was the longest two hours of my life and was horrific, but I have gone through pain for two hours which is nothing compared to our boys that have gone through chemotherapy.
“There were jellyfish, people being taken to hospital with hypothermia and it was the coldest I have ever been.
“I had cramp halfway through. If you’re running you can stop, but in the sea – with tankers and boats going by – you cannot.
“There were canoes helping so I held on, stretched and kept going. Every stroke I was thinking of the boys on the unit.
“The support from the locals was great and the feeling was incredible at the finish.”
Mr Flory, a former Yeovil Town trainee who also coached at Sherborne Town, hailed the public’s “immense” support.
Screwfix colleagues have organised An Evening For Isaac at Westland Leisure Centre on October 5, with proceeds going to the family.
Mr Flory said: “We went back to hospital yesterday and this will be the last phase of chemotherapy. Then we find out how Isaac is doing. They sent us home to build him up, eat as much as he can and be as rested as he can.
“He has responded pretty well so far and is taking it all in his stride and hasn’t moaned once. He’s just getting on with it.
“It will be a tough eight days and then a tough three weeks where his immune system will go down and he could pick up other illnesses.
“The support has been unbelievable. You just realise what people will do and how they will go that extra mile for you.
“You realise you need your friends and family and then you have this fantastic network that stretches further.
“It is amazing how people care and that helps us to be strong.
“We all have our wobbles and the support gets you through it.
“It has been a rollercoaster with more downs than ups but everyone has been really supportive. It makes a very hard situation a little bit more bearable.”