St Albans man with bowel cancer faces his fear of snakes – handling pythons and a 10ft boa

Crispin Mardon and Richard Symonds take on snake handling for bowel cancer.

Crispin Mardon and Richard Symonds take on snake handling for bowel cancer. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans man with bowel cancer has faced his fear of snakes to raise money and awareness of the disease.

Crispin Mardon and Richard Symonds building up to the big one.

Crispin Mardon and Richard Symonds building up to the big one. - Credit: Archant

Crispin Mardon of St Stephen's Avenue was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January and wanted to undertake a challenge to help people with his condition.

The 59-year-old teamed up with his godson Richard Symonds, who works for Bowel & Cancer Research, to take on the charity's 'I've Got Guts' challenge.

The challenge was set up in April to coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, encouraging people to do something daring for the cause.

Together Crispin and Richard faced two pythons and a boa constrictor at Snakes Alive reptile centre in Essex, raising a total of £3,265 for charity so far.

Richard, who is a corporate partnerships officer for Bowel & Cancer Research, described how the staff at the centre started by getting them both to handle a few grass snakes - but gradually the snakes got bigger and bigger.

He said: "When they brought out two pythons, called Monty and Charlotte, we thought that was it. But then they walked in with this 10ft boa constrictor and wrapped it around our necks.

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"I was in a flat panic when we arrived. Now - well I wouldn't volunteer to jump into a snake pit, but I'm not as scared as I was."

Speaking about the experience, Crispin said: "My heart rate went through the roof to start with.

"I was surprised the snakes weren't cold and slimy - they felt like warm leather shoes. I'm not sure I enjoyed the experience, but I'm glad I've done it."

Crispin is undergoing treatment for bowel cancer, which was discovered by chance after a routine visit to his GP.

As well as raising money, Crispin and Richard want to raise awareness and encourage people not to ignore the symptoms for fear of going to the doctor.

Richard hopes people will get checked out if they are in any way concerned, adding: "It might seem terrifying to go to the GP, but it could save your life."

More than 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK - making it the second most prevalent cancer. It is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early.

To make a donation to Crispin's cause visit and for more information about Bowel & Cancer Research see

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