On Valentine’s Day this Friday Monmouth Leisure Centre’s personal trainer and strength coach Matt Barrett will be attempting to scale nearly the height of Everest on a stair climbing machine in the gym.

Matt’s raising funds to revamp the family room at Bristol Southmead Neonatal Care Unit (NICU), in loving memory of the 2,600 babies who don’t get to see their first birthday each year in England and Wales, and their families.

"My main target is to complete 2,600 floors in memory of those babies but I hope to be able to carry on to 2,950 - which is equivalent to the height of Everest," he explained.

Matt’s family have very good reason to be grateful to the specialist unit, and his wife Romi along with many friends and relatives will be supporting him with some stair-climbing of their own.

"I’m attempting the challenge on behalf of my sister Michelle, her partner Chris and their sons Jack, Tommy, and baby Jake who lost his life at Southmead NICU despite the staff’s heroic efforts," said Matt.

"Tommy, who is four months old now, has had a hard start in life himself. He suffers from genetic respiratory problems and there were three weeks where we almost lost him too. Every day was a battle but he was saved by the incredible, endless efforts made at this wonderful hospital and its relentless team."

Matt, who’s 28 and has worked as a personal trainer and strength coach at the leisure centre for the past nine years, said he had to chose something which was ’a proper physical challenge’.

Starting at 6.30am, he reckons it will take anything up to 15 hours to reach the 2,600 mark, and two hours more to reach the ’top of Everest’.

"My mind will be ready but I can’t guarantee my body will," he said. "I’ve done a few cross-country obstacle courses but I’m not a marathon runner. Weight-lifting is my thing. I’ve been training two days a week for 12 weeks, apart from a short break when I sprained my ankle!

"On the day I’ll be burning 1,000 calories an hour - 15,000 to 18,000 in total - mostly in flapjacks and brownies. I’m hoping around 30 family members and lots of friends and colleagues will be there to support me."

Matt’s unusual challenge is currently in the top five per cent of Justgiving fundraising campaigns out of almost 30,000.

If you’d like to donate to the cause please go to Matthew’s 2,600 floor climb Justgiving.