A 61-year-old father of two is challenging himself to run a half marathon to raise £50,000 for a surgical charity he is passionate about.

Mel Zuydam from Adderbury near Banbury is a trustee and treasurer of international charity Mercy Ships.

The charity operates hospital ships and other healthcare services to those who have very little access to safe medical care in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Mr Zuydam said: “I’m passionately committed to Mercy Ships and both of its hospital ships, and I really want the newest hospital ship, the Global Mercy, to deliver its maximum life-changing impact.

“With the best support, we can help that happen.

“What I love about Mercy Ships is it’s not just about the hospital ships delivering truly transformational surgery but it’s the legacy of sustainability through training and increased medical capacity they leave behind.”

Now he is busy training with his canine running companion, a seven-year-old schnoodle called Suki to run the Amstelveen Half Marathon in Holland on Sunday, March 19.

He is determined to find sponsors to help him reach his £50,000 fundraising target for Mercy Ships.

Describing himself as a ‘moderate exerciser’ the chief financial officer in the energy infrastructure services sector said he has chosen to do his fundraiser in the Netherlands for two special reasons.

He said: “The flat terrain of the Netherlands is a big attraction.

“Also, I am half Dutch. My late father was from Gouda in the Netherlands - he passed away six years ago.”

Mr Zuydam said he is particularly keen to raise the money to sponsor the cost of a cabin on the newest hospital ship in the Mercy Ships fleet – the Global Mercy.

The world’s first purpose-built hospital training ship, the Global Mercy has 641 live-in volunteer crew who sleep in cabins on the ship.

Recruited from around the world, these volunteers have skills ranging from surgeons and teachers to cooks and electricians.

From correcting cleft lips and palates and congenital deformities to removing tumours and restoring eyesight, it is estimated that more than 150,000 lives will be changed on board the Global Mercy through surgery alone, over the vessel’s 50-year expected lifespan.

From this month, the ship will be docked in Dakar and delivering life-changing surgery to patients in Senegal and The Gambia before heading to Sierra Leone.

Mr Zuydam’s wife Melissa will be supporting him at the event and his daughter Izzy, 19, and son, Ben, aged 17, have been encouraging him in his training.

To help Mr Zuydam reach his ambitious target visit his JustGiving site https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mel-zuydam3


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1