A 10-YEAR-OLD boy has completed the first part of his Children in Need fundraising challenge – with the help of a former professional rugby player.

Dante Valaydon-Pillay, from Raglan, has set out to complete the challenge of climbing the Sugarloaf in Abergavenny once a day for five consecutive days to raise money for the charity which helps children who are in poverty, young carers and those who have been affected by a range of hardships.

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For the first day of his challenge – April 11 - he was joined by former Dragons number 8 Ed Jackson. Dante learned about Mr Jackson’s story – where he was left paralysed after suffering a severe spinal injury and needing to be resuscitated three times after diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool.

Mr Jackson’s accident happened in 2017, the same year Dante’s mother Frances had a series of strokes and was left in a coma for six days and paralysed. Mrs Valaydon-Pillay has since made good progress in her recovery, just like Mr Jackson – who was told he would likely never walk again.

During Mrs Valaydon-Pillay’s illness and recovery, five-year-old Dante was supported by family and friends and was inspired to help Children in Need after seeing adverts about the charity and realising not all children are as lucky. After learning about Mr Jackson as part of an English lesson during lockdown, he really wanted the former rugby star to be involved.

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Mr Jackson now runs the Millimetres 2 Mountains foundation with his wife Lois and former England international Olly Barkley. The name of the foundation signifies how he was unable to move millimetres but is now climbing mountains. He uses this foundation to help people overcome mental health challenges through exploration and adventures.


Dante and Mr Jackson were faced with a wet start to their 3.5 mile climb when they set off at 10am. Dante said: “I have been looking at my mum’s weather app every day to see if it will get sunny and up until the day before the weather looked bad.

“Luckily, it suddenly changed, and it got sunny.”

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Dante and Mr Jackson were joined by Mrs Jackson, Mr Jackson’s step-mum, brother and two of his friends and their dog. At the summit, Dante held up his special ‘Children in Need – Charity Hike Day 1’ flag.

On descent, Mr Jackson gave Dante a personalised copy of his book, Lucky, with a note saying “Dante, congratulations on your fundraising, what an epic achievement! It was great to meet you, hopefully we can climb some hills/mountains again in the future! Keep exploring!”

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“I really enjoyed meeting Ed and our climb,” said Dante. “I feel fine after the first day, but I do have another four to do! Only another 31,528 steps to finish!”

Dante is using kit supplied by Mountain Warehouse in Abergavenny to ensure he is kitted out for all weathers and has currently raised £800.

“I’m so pleased and thankful,” he said. “All donations will help Children in Need.”

You can view the fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/littlepersonmightymountian