A superstar chef is helping Morriston Hospital worker and clinical tutor in Swansea University’s College of Medicine Andrew Jones turn up the heat on his tireless charity fundraising efforts.
Andrew has been selected to join Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay’s GR100 Ironman team and will make his debut with them in Staffordshire this June.
The operating department practitioner (ODP) from Carmarthen will be busy raising money for the Gordon Ramsay Foundation.
At the same time he will continue his fundraising for a cause close to his heart – the hospital in Uganda where he has twice spent time as a volunteer and which he hopes to return to later this year.
It’s an amazing achievement for 40-year-old Andrew, who followed in the footsteps of his dad Arthur Jones and granddad Idris Jones by playing rugby for Carmarthen Quins.
But even more remarkable is Andrew’s fight back to full fitness in just eight months following a serious sports injury in January 2013.
He said: “I snapped three of the four ligaments in my knee, snapped my femur and had a dislocated kneecap.
“I was in plaster for five months. They told me I would not be able to walk in a straight line after that.
“I love sport so that was a shock to the system. I wanted to get fit again and play, and with physiotherapy I finally got back into it.
“I was able to play in the first match of the 2013-14 season. We finished the year winning the West Wales Division One league and completely unbeaten – we didn’t lose a match.
“All I had wanted to do was come back and play once. But we went from win to win to win, and I ended up lifting the trophy my grandfather had lifted, in the same park and in the same jersey.
“That was a bit special.”
Andrew decided to retire at the end of the season but, he said, was bored within weeks of calling time on his playing career.
That was when he entered his first triathlon, in Gower, in which he “did okay” and then went for two more – Carmarthen, which saw him win the swimming event, followed by Neath.
Andrew said: “I got involved with Gordon Ramsay after I was contacted by someone from the British triathlon team. They had seen some of my results and they asked for a bit of background information.
“I sent it off to them, and then I had a phone call from Gordon Ramsay’s PA, which took my breath away to be honest.”
Earlier this month Andrew went to London for a launch party and training seminar at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen restaurant.
“I had a lot of time to talk to Gordon. He was really lovely. He came up to me and shook my hand and we had a great chat.
“He said he was pleased to have me on board and that he enjoyed reading my application and I was the sort of person he wanted on the team – which was lovely to hear.”
As part of the team Andrew will be fitted out with thousands of pounds worth of kit, all of it sponsored. He’ll also have regular training events and sessions with international Ironman winners and Olympians.
Andrew works mainly in Morriston’s burns and plastics unit and theatres and is a clinical tutor in Swansea University’s College of Medicine.
Over the last few years he has twice travelled to Uganda to carry out voluntary work in Mityana Hospital in the central region.
During his last fortnight-long trip he carried out 37 surgical procedures involving roadside trauma, burns, assaults and gunshot and stab wounds.
That led to the charity he volunteers with, the Mityana Community Foundation, inviting him to become its chief medical advisor.
He raises money to buy equipment for the hospital, and has now set his sights on raising £5,000 for the Gordon Ramsay Foundation too.
“It’s not that easy because everybody is trying to get sponsorship these days but I will be organising a fundraising event of some kind.
“Unfortunately I haven’t been able to make it back to Mityana yet. I should have gone by now but I couldn’t because white aid workers have been targeted so there were security issues.
“But even though that is on hold it hasn’t stopped. Hopefully I will be going back out before the summer.”
You can support Andrew via his JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/andrew-jones68/.
This is an ABMU Health Board news release http://www.abm.wales.nhs.uk/.
- Monday 19 January 2015 00.00 GMT
- Wednesday 21 January 2015 14.51 GMT
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295049