Sunderland ‘Silent killer’ campaigners carry message on two wheels

Cyclists arrive at Sunderland Royal Hospital as part of a bike ride to boost awareness of ovarian cancer.
Cyclists arrive at Sunderland Royal Hospital as part of a bike ride to boost awareness of ovarian cancer.
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CAMPAIGNING cyclists paid a visit to Sunderland Royal Hospital to raise awareness of a silent killer.

They rode into Wearside as part of a mission to flag up the profile of ovarian cancer treatment.

Taking part in the 240-mile ride were Ken Gyles, whose daughter Emma aged 24 in 2008 died after developing cancer of the ovaries, and Professor Richard Edmondson, of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, who treated her.

Their aim was to make people more aware of ovarian cancer and also spread the word about a medical bursary set up by Ken and wife Barbara in Emma’s memory.

Also lending their pedal power to the cause were Kevin Rowan, Northern TUC regional secretary, Maddie Moat, the 2012/13 recipient of the Emma Gyles Bursary, Dr Kathy Gillies and Alex Rodgers, a fellow TUC member of staff who also recently completed the Coast to Coast ride for the charity.

The group started in Whitehaven, on the west coast of Cumbria and finished at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, calling into 10 cancer units along the way.

In total the ride included more than 12,000 feet of climbing - almost three times the height of Ben Nevis - and 16 hours in the saddle over the two days.

The Bursary set up in Emma’s memory helps fund research into ovarian cancer and its aim is to raise £10,000 a year to fund a full-time medical student to work on the research alongside Professor Edmondson and his team.

This year’s holder of the bursary was Anna Grundy, who carried out a project to speed up the testing of ovarian cancer cells from 15 days to under five, which means faster treatment for patients.

The importance of her work has already been recognised and she is due to present her findings at the National Cancer Research Institute meeting in Liverpool this December.

She said: “I am immensely grateful for the fantastic opportunity to carry out a research project in ovarian cancer. Working with the ovarian cancer research group has been incredibly rewarding and has encouraged me to pursue my interest in the speciality of oncology.

“I now have a greater appreciation of the challenges faced by individuals with ovarian cancer and feel honoured to have contributed towards the development of better treatments for these patients.”

Maddie will now take over the work started by Anna with a team of scientists and doctors based at the Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre in Gateshead and Newcastle University.

To donate or for more information on the Emma Gyles Bursary, visit

Twitter: @janethejourno