Step up for the fight against cancer - a hero Sunderland man's New Year resolution message to walkers

A Sunderland Sergeant Major – who walked a half marathon a day for a year in memory of his dad – has urged Wearside people to back a huge cause in 2022.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 4:55 am

Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell is right behind the Cancer Research campaign called Walk All Over Cancer. It is calling on people to get sponsored to walk 10,000 steps every day in March.

By raising vital funds, people across the region could help to further life-saving research while burning off any excess festive calories.

And what better example is there to follow than Sgt Major Ansell who completed a phenomenal feat last year. He walked a half marathon every day for a year.

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David Ansell who is urging people to support Cancer Research UK.

It started as a walk to support his dad David, 70, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2020, but it turned into a memorial event after the Royal Artillery veteran died just two weeks into the challenge.

Sgt Major Ansell, who lives in Sunderland city centre and is based at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle, said: “The mental health aspect of my challenge was huge. It was brilliant getting out in the fresh air every day and clearing the mind.

"Particularly on days when the loss of my dad weighed heavy, getting out and walking through it with uplifting music is a real boost. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to step up to the Walk All Over Cancer challenge this March and help raise as much money for research into this disease as possible.”

During his own challenge, David managed to lose around 2.5 stone, went through nine pairs of trainers and clocked up 8.6 million steps. Now he is right behind another important cause.

Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell pictured completing his year long half marathon walking challenge last September.

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the North East, said: “1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime but all of us can support the research that will beat it. That’s why we’re urging people to play their part by making ‘Walk All Over Cancer’ their New Year’s resolution.

“We all hope that 2022 has a more positive outlook. So why not give yourself a boost by committing to get more active and having an achievable goal to aim for - all in aid of a good cause.

“There’s plenty of time for supporters to start building up to the challenge in March and planning new ways to fit in some extra steps, especially if you’re struggling to hit your daily step count when working from home.

“Sticking to a resolution can be hard, especially through the cold, dark winter months, but registering now and making a public pledge to take part in the Spring, could help people steel their resolve. Plus, there’s the ultimate motivation of knowing every step you take will be helping to save lives.”

Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell at the end of his phenomenal challenge.

Based on the average person’s strides, 10,000 steps is equal to about five miles, so by the end of March participants will have clocked up more than 150 miles.

The charity’s ambition is to see 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034.

To sign up and receive a free fundraising pack and t-shirt, visit

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David pictured with his father.

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David Ansell who has urged people to take up a Cancer Research UK challenge this year.