Sunderland soldier walks half marathon every day for a year to raise money for Cancer Research UK

A Sunderland soldier has hit the road for the fight against cancer.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 7:00 am

Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell is eight months into a year-long half marathon walking challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

David, 46, set off on in October 2020 and is covering a half marathon every day for a year in memory of his dad David, 70, who was in the Royal Artillery for 22 years. Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March last year, he died just two weeks into the challenge.

With eight months gone, David has completed his 250th walk and covered more than 3279.2miles/5277.5km.

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David Ansell on one of his walks (left) and with dad David
David Ansell on one of his walks (left) and with dad David

He has already passed his fundraising target of £5,000, looks set to reach £10,000, is now 33 pounds (2.3 stone) lighter after completing nearly 750 hours of exercise and burning more than 743,000 calories. David, who lives in Sunderland and is based at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle, said: “This was never a challenge about weightloss, but it has been an added benefit as a result of the exercise I’ve done each day.

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He is helping to highlight a new short film from Cancer Research UK with the message: ‘One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. All of us can support the research that will beat it’.

"It was devastating when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and to lose him so quickly was nothing we could prepare for,” said David.

David Ansell before starting his challenge (left) and after losing more than two stone

I also saw a work colleague and friend, Lance Corporal Dean ‘Deano’ Ashworth, lose his own battle with cancer. He was only 31.

"I am committed to doing my best to support Cancer Research UK and help other families.”

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East, said: “This past year proves, more than any other, the value of research and what can be achieved together. Just like science is our route out of the pandemic, science is our route to beating cancer.

“That’s why we want to harness the ‘people power’ of our incredible supporters, because the progress we make relies on every hour of research, every pound donated and everyone who gets involved.

To get involved, visit

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