A YEAR ago, Jack Burgess had barely set out on the long road to recovery from the sepsis that nearly killed him.

The 14-year-old developed the condition - in which tissues and organs are damaged by the body's response to infection - as a consequence of a bout of meningitis, and at one point struggled even to use the crutches he needed to help him to walk.

Twelve months on however, and Jack - from Pontypool - has overcome the pain and debilitation to complete an epic endurance challenge.

He has completed the Junior Long Course in Tenby, comprising a 1.2 mile swim, a 42-mile cycle ride, and a 10-kilometre run, held across three days.

Jack's dad Chris Burgess said it marked a "fantastic turnaround" for his son after months of slow recovery -and he told the Argus about how his son fell gravely ill last year.

"Jack was in and out of hospital and the doctors didn’t know what it was," said Mr Burgess.

“He came down one day with a headache and a real susceptibility to light and so my wife rushed him to hospital.


“It turned out he had contracted sepsis. We were told that if he had not been brought into hospital so quickly, he could have died.

“He had contracted sepsis as a result of getting meningitis.”

Mr Burgess, an ironman athlete and teacher at Cwmbran High School, completed the full Long Course event in Swansea last year, with Jack there on crutches to support him.

“He had no feeling in one side of his body and was almost unable to use his crutches," said Mr Burgess.

South Wales Argus:

(Jack Burgess on crutches supporting his dad, Chris, as he finished the Long Course in 2018. Picture: Chris Burgess.)

“This time last year I had done the Long Course. After I had finished, he said to me that he wanted to do it this year.

“The turnaround has been fantastic. I can’t praise him enough.

“He has found it incredibly difficult. He’s been on high levels of medication to help him cope with the pain. It’s only in the last couple of months it was lowered, so he hasn’t been able to train as he would have liked, and he’s had eight months off from PE in school.

“But training for this and then completing it is exactly what he needed. It’s done the world of good for him.

“This time last year we were just hoping that by this point he would be off of his crutches - not completing an ironman.”

South Wales Argus:

(Jack Burgess after he completed the junior Long Course in Tenby. Picture: Chris Burgess.)

Mr Burgess said he and his wife Gia had been impressed with Jack’s attitude throughout his recovery.

“From our point of view, he’s just taken everything in his stride. He just gets on with things," he said.

“He’s been through so much that most kids wouldn’t be able to imagine.

“He’s now just so proud of himself with what he has been through and what he has achieved, and rightly so.

“It was nice as all his brothers and sisters were there to cheer him on over the weekend.”

Friend of the family Sarah Debnam added: "Jack's had such a tough time contracting meningitis and recovering from it. Seeing him complete the Junior Long Course is really inspiring."