Dad has entered bike race in son’s memory

JPOS Dave Acres and his son Will Acres from Emsworth who died from pulmonary hypertension (PH), a serious condition affecting the heart and lungs, aged just 22.
JPOS Dave Acres and his son Will Acres from Emsworth who died from pulmonary hypertension (PH), a serious condition affecting the heart and lungs, aged just 22.

An Emsworth father is taking part in a 100-mile cycle race to raise funds for research into the rare disease that took the life of his 22-year-old son.

Dave Acres will be taking on the first-ever Vélo South closed-road cycle event across West Sussex on September 23 in memory of his son Will, who died earlier this year from pulmonary hypertension (PH), a rare condition affecting the heart and lungs.

Dave, 54, of Record Road, said: “I am doing the Vélo South in memory of Will and I am honoured to be riding with a team of incredible friends who have supported our family throughout and hope to be able to raise some money to help other people with PH and to help research further to try and find a cure for this rare condition.”

Will was a former pupil of Bishop Luffa School in Chichester and an up-and-coming DJ who had finished a music production degree. He appeared at the Leeds Festival and BBC Introducing before he became ill in the summer of 2016, when he started getting chest pains and found it difficult to keep up with friends.

Dave added: “He was given a very rare chance of survival with a heart and lung transplant, one of only five people to have this in the UK in 2017, but sadly he didn’t pull through and died on February 1. We had never heard of this rare and incurable condition. It came completely out of the blue. In some cases people can go on living for ten or 20 years before they need a heart or lung transplant but in Will’s case it hit him really quickly.”

After his death, Will’s family launched fundraising campaigns such as the #PHAEggHeadChallenge, inspired by a video of Will using his forehead to crack an egg taped to his wardrobe door. The social media fundraising campaign was launched by Will’s sister Annabelle to support The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA UK), the family’s beneficiary charity at Vélo South.

To support Dave Acres’ fundraising at Vélo South visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/willacres

Vélo South is set to take 15,000 riders of all ability levels on a journey through the West Sussex countryside, starting and finishing on the Goodwood motor circuit and featuring the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. The route spans much of the South Downs, with many roads closed to traffic on the day.

The race is expected to raise millions for local and national charities after selling out all its general entry places. However, organisers have created a limited number of places for participants who live on or near the route. Those interested should email hello@velosouth.com with their details to find out more.

Prospective participants can also enter through one of the lead charity partners – Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Restart Rugby and the British Heart Foundation.

For more information, visit www.velosouth.com