Sunderland Sergeant Major has walked 130 half-marathons - and plans to do 205 more in year-long challenge

A Sunderland Sergeant Major is inviting people to join him on his daily half-marathon walking campaign as the charity he backs launches its own challenge.

Now the fund has launched its Walk All Over Cancer appeal, with David inviting people to get involved by joining in on one of his routes throughout March.

What started out as a walk to support his dad David, 70, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March last year, turned into memorial event after the Royal Artillery veteran died in just two weeks into the challenge.

Sergeant Major David Ansell at the top of Penshaw Monument on one of his walks as he raises funds for Cancer Research UK.

A month in, he lost a colleague, Lance Corporal Dean ‘Deano’ Ashworth, 31, to the disease.

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He has worn through two pairs of trainers and covered 1,705 miles or 2,744km, the equivalent of 3,410,000 steps, with part of that catch up time after being in isolation for two weeks after his partner had coronavirus.

He has topped his £5,000 fundraising target, with more than £6,000 collected, and lost more than a stone and a half in weight.

Sergeant Major David Ansell and his dad David, who died aged 70 of cancer when his son had just started his daily walk challenge.

David, who lives in Sunderland city centre and is based at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle, said: “I completed my 130th walk this week and have already smashed my fundraising total, which is great to see.

“It’s really keeping me going during these cold months, when my legs are feeling heavy and I get home from a walk completely drenched.

“Fortunately I’ve been able to apply all my previous Army knowledge from cold weather training exercises in Norway to keep warm with the right type of clothing, but it doesn’t stop you getting wet.

"It’s been on these tough days that the support has kept me going, with people donating and beeping as they drive by.”

Sergeant Major David Ansell on the coastline during one of his Cancer Research UK walks.

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the North East, said: “We don’t have to take on a huge challenge like David, but signing up to Walk All Over Cancer is a safe and simple way to show support.

"Plus, knowing you’ll be helping to save lives is the ultimate motivation.”

To sign up visit

David’s challenge can be followed through his Facebook page 365 half marathon walks in 365 days.

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