Wimpy superfan from Sussex visiting every UK restaurant - but where did 'lifelong obsession' begin?

A Wimpy superfan, from Sussex, is embarking on a 2,400-mile fundraising tour of the restaurant’s 64 branches across the UK to raise money for charity.

Software developer Anthony Zupnik, 36, is a nostalgic superfan of old-school burger restaurant Wimpy.

Anthony grew up in Angmering and spent many happy hours at two local branches – which were run his late godmother, Maria Trifonos.

Maria ran the Littlehampton branch in the 70s and 80s, and the Worthing venue in the 90s.

Anthony – who now lives in Leeds – came home this week during week two of his month-long challenge to visit Wimpy’s 64 UK franchises – in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

A trust spokesperson said: “Anthony celebrated his fifth birthday at the Worthing branch in 1993, which was the beginning of his lifelong obsession with all things Wimpy, and he claims to be ‘Wimpy’s biggest fan’.

“After 30-odd years of ordering the same meal at Wimpy; a burger with just ketchup and onions, plus chips, he’s pushing his boundaries and trying everything on the menu he possibly can. However, he is keen to stress that this is not an eating challenge, and that on many visits that he’ll just be having a drink or light meal.”

Through his Wimpy tour, Anthony is raising money for a charity close to his heart – Teenage Cancer Trust.

Anthony received care and support from the charity’s nurses and youth teams after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer aged 22 – while studying physics at the University of Leeds.

He was able to receive his cancer treatment on one of Teenage Cancer Trust’s 28 specialist units for teens and young adults, places where they can benefit from enhanced facilities and be around others their own age, rather than people decades older than them.

On this tour and the motivation behind it, Anthony – who has so far raised almost £2,000 – said: “I was brilliant to revisit my hometown Wimpies, and the tour so far is going really well. I’ve had a fantastic reception from all of the owners and workers.

“I am determined to prove I am Wimpy’s biggest fan, and to raise as much money as possible for Teenage Cancer Trust, so that they can help many more young people with cancer.”

Anthony had a pain in his side for three weeks before discovering a lump on his testicle. Tests confirmed he had stage 2b cancer, and after an operation, he endured months of chemotherapy.

Anthony said: “The Teenage Cancer Trust nurses on the unit were incredible, so supportive – they made a tough time feel as OK as it could.

“I was a bit reclusive by the time treatment ended, but they helped me rebuild my confidence by organising for me to go on adventure holidays and to make friends with other young people with cancer, so that I didn’t feel so alone. That made a big difference to me.

“I’ll be forever grateful to the charity, and this challenge sees me combine my love for Wimpy with my love for Teenage Cancer Trust.”

Anthony’s wife Claire Zupnik was his girlfriend at the time he was diagnosed and supported him through his ordeal. They married in 2017 after Anthony proposed in Paris, and she is helping him navigate the huge challenge, which will see him travel as far as Fraserburgh in Scotland.

“I think the only time I cried during all I went through was when I had to tell Claire I had cancer,” Anthony said.

"She helped me through that time and continues to support me in everything I do. She has helped me so much with my Wimpy tour, which at times has been pretty stressful, trying to juggle work and travel and all the fundraising. I’d like to thank her for putting up with me!”

A map on Anthony’s website outlines his planned route, which he has optimised using Wolfram Language, a programming language created by his employer Wolfram Research, which is sponsoring his challenge.

He added: “My employer and colleagues at Wolfram Research have been amazing. I was a bit nervous to tell some of my colleagues, but they’ve been really supportive and really got behind the tour.”

Teenage Cancer Trust said the fundraising challenge is a personal project and is not affiliated with, endorsed, or sponsored by Wimpy UK, adding: “It is a fan-driven initiative celebrating the history and nostalgia of Wimpy restaurants.”

Sponsor Anthony’s challenge via www.justgiving.com/page/wimpytour.

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