A DAD from Crooklands was surprised with a prestigious charity award from Olympic racing cyclist Chris Boardman in recognition of his impressive fundraising in honour of his son.

Sam Taylor was crowned Fundraiser of the Year as part of the President’s Awards from Muscular Dystrophy UK for coordinating and cycling the Duchenne Research Relay to raise vital funds for the charity.

The event saw Mr Taylor and 18 others cycle 380 miles across three days, visiting four neuromuscular research centres and raising a staggering £43,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Mr Taylor’s 12-year-old son, Will, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2014.

The progressive condition means Will’s muscles are weakening over time, affecting both his mobility and other vital muscles in his body.

Mr Taylor, his family and wider network of supporters have raised more than £180,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK over the years by undertaking triathlons, marathons and other gruelling physical challenges.

Award recipients were nominated by staff and shortlisted by a judging panel consisting of three trustees.

And the father of two had no idea he had been nominated for the Fundraiser of the Year award, only finding out after Catherine Woodhead, CEO of Muscular Dystrophy UK, invited him to a virtual meeting in January, which he thought was to discuss important charity strategies for the year ahead.

“I feel really proud to accept the award,” he said.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible group of people who have supported us since Will was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2014.

“We are really fortunate to have friends who have pushed themselves totally out of their comfort zones to take on our challenges, and to share Will’s story, to help us fund research to find a treatment. Without them, we would not have raised as much money.

“For me personally, the fundraising efforts are my way of fighting back on Will’s behalf, to feel like I’m doing something that might just find him a treatment – and help to find a treatment for future generations of children born with muscular dystrophy.

“The bonus of creating these events has been meeting incredible people and giving Will amazing experiences with them.

“With the Duchenne Research Relay, I wanted to help raise awareness of the condition and the ground-breaking work that is happening in these fantastic neuromuscular centres that Muscular Dystrophy UK funds.”

Ms Woodhead said: “This year’s judging process was harder than ever, and we are exceptionally thankful to Chris Boardman for giving up his time to present Sam with his award.

“We also want to extend our deepest thanks to our president, Gabby Logan, who has been heavily involved in the process from start to finish. We’re sending a huge congratulations to all our 2021 President’s Award winners and thank them for their outstanding achievements to help make muscles matter.”