Sheffield friends complete Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge wearing fancy dress in memory of school pal

A group of former Tapton School pupils have taken on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in memory of a school friend who died from a rare brain tumour.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 3:20 pm

On Saturday, October 16, mechanical engineer John Rapinet and his four friends James Royle, Reza Ali, Simon Rolley, and Chris Slack completed the 25-mile Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

The group completed the 61,000 steps of the walk-in twelve hours and five minutes, stopping for a couple of 30-minute food breaks and playing around with the drone en route.

The schoolmates who attended Tapton secondary school were inspired to raise funds after their friend Aria Nikjooy lost his life to a medulloblastoma, aged 30, following a three-year battle with the disease.

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The group have completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge wearing fancy dress in memory of their school friend Aria Nikjooy.

John, who grew up in Crosspool and now lives in Aigburth, Liverpool, said: “Aria went through surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try to keep his tumour at bay. Then, in March last year, the tumour came back, and he had a second brain surgery. Devastatingly, a second recurrence came four months later, resulting in another brain operation and more cancer treatment.

“He was forging a great career as a doctor in Manchester. He leaves behind his wife, Naomi, and their young son, Eliyas. Aria was best man at my wedding in 2019; we were really close. Our friendship group has always been tight-knit and we have all been supporting each other through our grief.”

While living with the disease, Aria turned to writing and published a children’s fiction book to help explain the complex issues surrounding illness and cancer to Eliyas, who was a toddler at the time.

To make their epic walk all the more challenging, John and his fellow hikers decided to do it in fancy-dress costumes depicting some of the fictional characters from Aria’s books.

When they were at school, John and Aria took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme together, and so John thought the Three Peaks was a ‘fitting’ challenge to attempt.

The group have successfully raised £2,890, which will be donated to Brain Tumour Research to fund research into brain tumours and speed up new treatments for patients.

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet, historically, just 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Matthew Price, Brain Tumour Research’s community development manager, said: “We are so grateful to John, Simon, James, Reza and Chris for taking on this brilliant challenge to raise money to help find a cure for brain tumours. We wish them all the best for the walk.

“Aria’s tragic story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone, at any time. What’s more, unlike most other cancers, incidences of and deaths from brain tumours are rising. We cannot allow this devastating situation to continue.”

To make a donation to Brain Tumour Research in support of John and the team, visit www.gofundme.com/f/walk-for-aria-nikjooy.

A proportion of the funds raised will be used to distribute Aria's children's books to hospitals, hospices and the rest will be donated to Brain Tumour Research.

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