Simon Ledsham, Director of Communities for Cancer Research UK, is cycling from the Beatson Institute in Glasgow to the Francis Crick Institute in London via Cancer Research UK’s key research institutes and centres in Cheshire, Birmingham and Cambridge – highlighting the vital role science plays in helping more people survive the disease.
The 49-year-old will pedal more than 100 miles a day some days during the six-day challenge until he returns to the charity’s headquarters in Islington, London, on Friday.
He has been joined by his colleague Debbie Bradley and guest cyclists will join them at various points along the route – including Tom Simms and Josh Nicholls from Bolton – for the challenge which began at Glasgow’s Beatson Institute on Sunday morning.
The pair conquered tough terrain, wind and driving rain through Scotland and Cumbria before heading through Preston and Manchester and Cheshire to arrive at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, currently based at Alderley Park, near Macclesfield, in Cheshire, on Tuesday (9 October).
They were met by a cheering crowd of Cancer Research UK-funded scientists, researchers and supporters.
The cycle is the latest in a series of fundraising charity challenges for Simon who is aiming to raise £10,000 for Stand Up To Cancer.
He has previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, tried his hand at Stand Up comedy and even taken to the stage dressed as David Bowie for a charity version of Stars in Their Eyes.
Simon said: “Each year I look to do something to raise awareness and money for Stand Up To Cancer but I think this is going to be by far the toughest one yet.
“It’s a huge physical challenge to cover this distance, especially day after day, but it will also require considerable mental strength.”
The 500-mile cycling challenge was dreamt up at the start of the summer as Simon and Debbie asked for ideas of what to do to help raise funds and awareness for this year’s campaign.
As well as visiting a number of the charity’s research centres in the UK, the pair will also call at a number of Cancer Research UK shops and meet supporters and volunteers.
Simon added: “My inspiration comes from the amazing people who fundraise tirelessly for us and who are prepared to put their mental, physical and emotional strength to the test.
“It will be nice to meet some of the scientists and researchers who are at the sharp end of what we do as well as the supporters and volunteers who work tirelessly to help us beat cancer.”
Stand Up To Cancer is a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4. It raises money to speed up life-saving research and is supported by a host of celebrities including Davina McCall, Edith Bowman, Alan Carr, Joel Dommett and Kirsty Allsopp.
Alison Barbuti, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “It was great to welcome the Stand Up To Cancer Cycle team to our Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, currently based here at Alderley Park, where they got a massive cheer and thanks from our scientists, researchers and supporters.
“What the cycle team is attempting is a massive challenge and its thanks to efforts like this that we are able to fund our vital work.
“Research is already helping ensure more people are surviving cancer than ever before, but too many lives are still cut short by this devastating disease. That’s why we need everyone to stand up and help take cancer out.
“Every day our scientists and researchers are working tirelessly to beat the disease. But research in the lab alone won’t get us there. We need to raise some serious cancer-crushing cash to speed up breakthroughs from the petri dish into better treatments for patients.”
She continued: “The more people that join the fight now, the sooner we can beat cancer for everyone.”
Stand Up To Cancer has raised £38 million since it was launched in the UK in 2012. The funding is used for clinical trials and projects which accelerate the development of new cancer treatments and tests, to help patients and ultimately save more lives.
This year, Stand Up To Cancer will culminate with a night of live TV on Channel 4, on Friday, October 26.
To get involved visit standuptocancer.org.uk
Text Cycle5, Cycle10 or Cycle20 to 70404 to donate £5, £10 or £20 to Stand Up To Cancer.