Local businessman takes to the sea to raise charity funds

By Anita Jaynes on 19 May, 2015

Mark Rickaby, director of Wiltshire accountancy firm Sunflower Accounts Ltd, is taking the plunge into the icy waters off the UK to raise funds for a charity which supports people like him.

Mark, who lives in Calne, has an incurable condition Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) which affects the lower back and can lead to fusing of the bones of the spine.

Diagnosed in 2007, Mark has to maintain a healthy diet and fitness regime to manage the pain caused by AS and to prevent a worsening of the symptoms. In his professional life as co-founder of Sunflower Accounts with his wife Steph, they’ve pledged to raise funds for the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society(NASS) during 2015.

NASS is a charity, based in Bath, which provides support to those with AS within the UK, and also helps fund research into the condition.

Mark’s first fundraising effort is to take part in the Near-Water Inn to Inn Event 2.7km open water sea swim in Cornwall on Saturday June 20. Swimmers enter the water in the early morning and swim from the Old Quay Inn at Devoran to the Pandora Inn at Mylor.

Mark said: “This is my first sea swim and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been training by swimming at Calne Leisure Centre and Cotswold Lakes and my aim is to complete the course in about 45 minutes.

“However this is not a race, it’s a test of endurance and my real purpose is to raise funds for NASS, a small but important charity which helps people living with a potentially debilitating condition.  This condition affects both men and women, where bones in the spine can fuse together leading to deformation and disability in later life.

“My aim is raise at least another £250 by taking part in this challenge, in addition to our company’s regular charitable donations.”

It’s estimated about 200,000 people in the UK have AS and the average age at which symptoms occur is 24. It’s often described as arthritis of the spine.

Exercise is the single most important thing a person with AS can do to help themselves, while painkilling and anti-inflammatory medication will help to reduce pain and improve sleep and well being.

To support Sunflower and Mark in his 2.7km open water swim– visit: www.justgiving.com/Mark-Rickaby

Pictured about: Mark Rickaby of Sunflower Accounts