Father and Son Duo Complete Coast to Coast Raising Thousands for Cancer Charity
5th November 2015
A dedicated family duo from Doncaster, who have been affected by cancer more than once, completed a gruelling coast to coast walk in October to raise vital funds for a hospital close to their hearts.
Ryan Sheppeck and his dad, Tony, plus family friend, Martin, decided to take on the ultimate challenge of crossing the country on foot, to raise funds for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, after both Tony and Ryan's mum Margaret were diagnosed with cancer. In 2010, Ryan's dad, Tony (55) was diagnosed with Throat Cancer and after an initial tonsillectomy at Doncaster Royal Infirmary; he was referred to Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield for chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. In a cruel series of events and despite Tony's future now looking more positive, Ryan's mum Margaret was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. But after undergoing a mastectomy followed by treatment at Weston Park Hospital, Margaret wasn't as fortunate and sadly lost her fight with the disease aged 46 after it spread to her brain forming an untreatable tumour. Spurred on by an unbelievably difficult few years and after witnessing the unwavering support both his mum and dad received at the hands of the staff at Weston Park Hospital, Ryan was adamant he would give back to the hospitals dedicated charity to thank them for the commitment, compassion and care still shown to his dad today- 5 years on from diagnosis. It was decided that on the 5th October, Ryan, Tony and Martin would set off from Robin Hoods Bay on the East Coast and cover 192 miles whilst encompassing the three national parks of the North Yorkshire Moors, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, before arriving at St Bees 10 days later. Ryan, who had always had a love of backpacking said, "The support Weston Park Hospital provided to my parents deserves sincere respect and praise and the trek was a way of trying to repay some of that kindness." "Even after receiving the all clear from doctors, a battle with cancer isn't over- the following emotional and physical consequences can be severe and in my dad's case, he had suffered severely damaged saliva glands creating difficulty in even the simplest of tasks that many of us take for granted. To complete the hike was a sign of the strength and determination the hospital instilled in my dad following treatment." Weston Park Hospital is one of only a handful of specialist cancer hospitals in England and treats patients from all over South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire a population of almost 1.8million people. Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity is the only dedicated charity for the hospital and exists to support the world-class cancer research and to improve the treatment and care for people living with cancer. In 2012, just 2 years after being diagnosed and whilst coming to terms with the side effects of his treatment and learning to manage life after cancer, Tony and his daughter Kim took on a 50 mile, 4 day trek across the Grand Canyon raising an outstanding £8,000 for the cancer charity. Ryan continued, "Sadly due to study commitments I wasn't able to join my dad and sister in the Grand Canyon, I did however all I could in supporting their fundraising efforts. Our recent coast to coast trek was a collaborative effort meaning together, dad and I could say a joint thank you and substantially contribute towards fighting cancer, saving lives and changing the world." Fundraising efforts got off to an incredible start with an initial £3000 raised at a bucket collection at The Doncaster Racecourse St Leger day which set the bar for the next few weeks as donations for the walk started coming in thick and fast. The trek itself posed many physical and emotional challenges for the group and whilst braving the harshest of October elements, including relentless torrential rain and freezing winds, the trio faced the extra challenge of carrying their heavy food and clothing supplies for the entire distance. Ryan continued, "When I started this journey, I had the notion of pushing myself to mental and physical extremes. I felt, no matter the challenge, Weston Park Hospital's battle to fight cancer was significantly bigger." With Ryan suffering from the onset of flu and severe blisters, the magnitude of the challenge ahead was becoming apparent, but with an improvement in weather conditions and visits along the route from close family and friends, the coast of St Bees was soon in sight. In a bid to push themselves to the absolute limit, yet exhausted from the previous few days, both Ryan and Tony took the remarkable decision to tackle the third highest mountain in England- Helvellyn, as an extra to their already gruelling itinerary. Tony, who owns renowned Security Company, 1st Security Solutions, said, "Myself and Ryan climbed Helvellyn and I'm so glad we were able to complete this together. It was a real achievement for the both of us and a chance for us to overcome something spectacular, keeping in mind our ultimate goal of supporting the cancer charity." On arrival into St Bees the trio were greeted by an emotional welcome committee, who provided copious congratulations and a much needed show of support to mark the end of a truly testing 11 days. In the days to follow, Ryan especially was blow away by the generosity and kindness of those who chose to donate and support their efforts, taking their current total to over an unbelievable £7,500. Ryan went on, "It was always my ambition to raise as much as possible for Weston Park Hospital but such a figure was never in question and it's thanks to all those who donated that we have achieved this simply unfathomable amount." "Cancer is a cruel disease and it is now the case that by 2020 as many as 1 in 2 people will be affected at some stage in their lives. All that I have and will continue to achieve in life is testament to my dad and his pure determination and fight to beat this disease. He is my inspiration and I will be forever indebted to the hospital and charity that saw the special spark in him that refuses to go out." The charity needs to raise over £1.8 million this year to enable the funding of committed and new projects that will keep patients at the forefront of cancer treatment. Throughout 2015 the charity will fund various projects to enable the continued improvement of Weston Park Hospital; including the expansion of research studies, improving the way cancer treatments are delivered and supporting the ongoing care provisions of patients and their families affected by cancer. Fundraiser Sarah Cross said, "Since his diagnosis Tony has supported the charity through a number of means- each time pushing himself both physically and mentally to help raise funds to improve the facilities at Weston Park Hospital." "Ryan's dedication and efforts to organise the coast to coast trek is reflective of the entire family's passion and gratitude for the work of the hospital." " It's incredibly touching that a family that has suffered such heart-ache and turmoil continue to show their utmost support so that the charity can continue ensuring the cancer patients of the future can benefit from the same world-class treatment and care." To read Ryan's blog of their Coast to Coast challenge visit: http://www.ryansheppeck.com/blog/coast-to-coast-reflection To support the Sheppeck's trek and donate, visit their JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/ryan-sheppeck/ To find out more about the cancer charity's work across the region or organise your own trek visit: www.wphcc.org.uk