Mansfield men and friends taking on epic 50km challenge for Facial Palsy UK

The group, pictured here at Stephen Kerry's wedding, will be taking on the challenge for Facial Palsy UK this summerThe group, pictured here at Stephen Kerry's wedding, will be taking on the challenge for Facial Palsy UK this summer
The group, pictured here at Stephen Kerry's wedding, will be taking on the challenge for Facial Palsy UK this summer
Two men from Mansfield are taking on an epic challenge this summer to help support a mate suffering with a disease.

Stephen Kerry, a helicopter engineer with the Royal Navy, and Luke Tebbett, who is head of PE at a secondary school, will be part of a 15-strong group of friends who all met at Lincoln University, who will take on a 50 kilometre (31 miles) run across the Norfolk Broads this summer in an event known as The Broads Challenge.

Although they all met in Lincoln and have stayed in touch ever since, the group is now quite international with some now living as far afield as Australia, USA and Abu Dhabi.

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The group is taking on the challenge to raise funds for the charity Facial Palsy UK after one of their members, Dean Keats, developed the rare condition Ramsay Hunt Syndrome just before Christmas.

Dean, 35, a married father of one, thought he’d just got an ear infection, after developing ear ache and pain down the side of his face.

It was only after several wrong diagnoses that he was found to have Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

The virus entered his facial nerve and caused him to suffer paralysis down one side of his face.

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Dean said: “It was frightening, when your face loses its ability to function, you fear the worst.”

The symptoms and diagnosis shook and surprised Dean, who was an otherwise fit and healthy PE teacher who played rugby at weekends.

It also shocked his university mates too and, after rallying round to make sure Dean was okay, they decided to do something special in aid of Facial Palsy UK and show Dean he had their support.

Dean continued: “Facial Palsy UK have been my guiding light throughout, offering me all the advice I need to fight this condition.

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"That’s why I’m so proud of the boys for stepping up and raising awareness of them.”

The group members based in the UK will be taking on the run in Norfolk while those living overseas will be completing 50 kilometres where they live now.

Stephen Kerry said: “The group a combination of chiseled and ripped specimens to misshaped ‘dad bods’.

"The challenge is a serious undertaking for all of them but they’re only too happy to raise money and awareness for Facial Palsy UK.

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"We had an initial target of £2,000 but we reached than in 72 hours, so now we have our eye on a target of £5,000 which we hope will have a significant impact for the charity.

“With the current situation of lockdown and Covid, this is a small charity which really needs the exposure it deserves.”

Facial Palsy Awareness Week also takes place in the UK from March 1 to March 7.

Charles Nduka, chief executive at Facial Palsy UK, said: “Our research shows more than half of those with a diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome are initially misdiagnosed – it’s often confused with Bell’s Palsy.

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"More awareness about symptoms is urgently needed to ensure people receive the correct treatment within 72 hours as this can greatly improve their recovery outcomes.

"Facial palsy can affect anyone at any time – it really doesn’t discriminate.”

To support the group on their run, click here.

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