The snakes are alive – and Richard wishes they weren’t

He’s terrified of snakes. But that won’t stop Richard Symonds coming face to face with a python on May 24 in an ‘I’ve Got Guts’ challenge for Bowel & Cancer Research.

Richard was inspired to face his biggest fear when his godfather Crispin Mardon was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

“If he can keep such a positive attitude and be so strong, the least I can do is face my phobia,” said Richard, 28, from Watford.

Crispin has always been an incredibly positive person, and even though he is battling cancer, that hasn’t changed at all and I have been completely inspired by his bravery.

Crispin, 59, from St Albans, was diagnosed in January 2019 and is undergoing treatment for bowel cancer. He too is terrified of snakes.

“I can’t think of anything worse than handling snakes. But I like Richard’s challenge. At first I thought I could just go with him and wait outside. Then I realised I couldn’t leave him on his own,” he said.

The two will be in the capable hands of father and son team Peter and Daniel Hepplewhite at Snakes Alive in Billericay, Essex who have a reptile house full of snakes, lizards and spiders.

Richard said:

I will be handling a snake for the first time. I cannot stress enough how scared of them I am. Our aim is to raise as much money as possible for the charity.

“We also want to raise awareness of bowel cancer: 41,000 people are diagnosed with each year in the UK making it the second most prevalent cancer. It is however one of the most treatable cancers if caught early.

“Crispin’s cancer was caught by chance after a routine visit to his GP."

Chief Executive of Bowel & Cancer Research Deborah Gilbert thanked Richard and Crispin for their support.

“Bowel cancer is a dreadful disease. Our aim is to make sure that no one should die of bowel cancer and we can only do that with the help of our fantastic fundraisers,” she said.

Anyone who wants to support Richard and Crispin can do so at