When life threw a curveball at PHAT Dads founder Olly Lancaster and his wife Louise in 2010 they wanted to find a way to give back to parents who were facing life with a child who has a serious or terminal condition. The PHAT Dads Club and their friends and family, have since gone on to raise in excess of £120,000 for Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

Olly shared: “My wife Louise was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2010 which was traumatic, but nothing compared to the day the medical team said our young children might be at risk. After what seemed an eternity the BRCA gene testing confirmed no risk was passed on, which we’re eternally grateful for. This amazing news helped give Louise the strength to face the challenges cancer threw at her, just knowing both our young children were safe.

“That darkest time made us appreciate how lucky we were as parents, so we decided to ‘give back’ to those less fortunate. That is how we found Demelza; and with some amazing friends and other families we started The PHAT Dads Club in 2011; raising funds mostly through sporting challenges for the children and families Demelza cares for. It’s always been an honour and privilege and we’re very thankful for the opportunity to represent the charity.”

How to get fit for beginners

And whilst Olly’s inspirations stem from Louise’s strength, The PHAT Dads Club itself has quite a comical beginning. Following a group bike ride one Sunday in 2011 and through a combination of ‘liquid courage’ and a bit of gentle mocking from their wives and girlfriends, these dads set out on a mission to reclaim their health and fitness.

Olly shares: “Within our group of dads, there was said to be those who had, towards the end of their teenage years, been decent runners, tennis players, weight lifters, football players and cyclists. In an ironic twist the group was baptised PHAT Dads, meaning ‘Pretty Hot And Tasty’ (…exactly, not!). We had all hung up our gloves many years ago and now was at the realisation we had let ourselves go. Regardless we persevered and on that very first outing surprised ourselves and our WAG’s by achieving a 16 mile bike ride which was followed, the week after, by a six mile run and it’s been going on ever since.

“Our message to all is that we are normal dads, lost in the world of responsibility and commitment and all in need of a wake-up call. Within a few sessions we had discovered many positives and very few negatives, fit in mind will in time produce, fit in body and from it help energise those around.”

Having established themselves over the past decade, ‘PHAT’ has since matured into the philosophy of: Philanthropic (charitable), Holistic (in body & mind), Altruistic (unselfish) and Tenacity (man of purpose, determination & heart).

Extreme fundraising ideas

Challenge after challenge The PHAT Dads Club just kept on going and over the past ten years the group have raised in excess of £120,000 for Demelza.

“We have had the honour to provide all funding for the sensory garden (including the wooden gazebo house, planting, Astroturf and fountain), the inside sensory room refurbishment, six new bedroom refurbishments, new hygienic flooring and most recently the new shutters. We’ve also supported fairs and projects with the occasional semi-skilled labourer, as and when required” - explains Olly.

Speaking about his stand-out challenges, he shares: “For me personally, definitely the Iron Man 140.6 Triathlon, which I did with fellow PHAT Dad - Robert ‘machine’ Jackson – and yes, with that name he was much faster and fitter but we both managed to complete the event well within the 17 hours deadline. Robert was already standing at the finish to greet me, washed and dressed! As for the most memorable group event, probably the Hever Castle Triathlon in 2015, when more than a dozen of us PHAT Dads were joined by a few mums and children too, all in support of Demelza. It was a real group effort, and supported by all our family and friends.”

Commando Course at Hever Castle

One of Olly’s most recent challenges in October this year was a real family affair; bringing together wife Louise, daughter Raphaella and son Theo for the Commando Course at Hever Castle: “It involved 28 obstacles over a 6km assault course. There were submerged tunnels, cargo climbs, rope swings over pools of mud and river swims and all in freezing temperatures too!". Together with friends and family sponsoring them, they raised a fantastic £3,269.79 (including Gift Aid).

Pictured: Olly, Louise, Raphaella and Theo.

Olly And Family PHAT Dads (1)
Iron Man

Olly gives a final shout out to Neil ‘Phat’ Chapman who runs their Facebook page and this year completed the Iron Man Weymouth 70.3 in aid of Demelza. With help from his employer Nationwide Building Society he raised a huge £2,017.25 (including Gift Aid). 

Pictured: PHAT Dads, Olly, Neil and Robert.

Olly, Neil And Robert, PHAT Dads

As with all fundraisers, Demelza would like to extend their gratitude to The PHAT Dads Club, their friends and family, for all their hard work and support over the years - what an incredible achievement.

You can keep up to date with The PHAT Dads Club’s fundraising over on their Facebook page.

If you’ve been inspired to challenge yourself and help raise vital funds for Demelza, then take a look at our extreme challenges coming up over the next year; including our Demelza Skydive, the London Marathon and a once in a lifetime, 10 day Mount Kilimanjaro trek.

Get in touch

Interested in setting up your own fundraising challenge? Our community fundraising team are available to answer any questions you might have about fundraising and support you with your events.

For more inspiration and fundraising ideas, visit our fundraise for us page.