Sunderland soldier celebrates raising £15,000 for Cancer Research UK in memory of dad by walking half marathon every day for a year

A Sunderland soldier who walked some 4,781 miles as part of a year-long mission to raise money for Cancer Research UK has completed his challenge and raised more than £15,000.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 7:13 pm

Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell, 47, finished his final walk on Thursday September 30, setting off from Fenham Barracks in Newcastle, where he is based, and finishing at Chaplins pub in Sunderland – greeted with big cheers from friends and family.

David, who lives in Sunderland city centre, set off on the walking challenge in October 2020, covering a half marathon – 13.1 miles – every day for a year to help raise vital funds for life-saving research into cancer.

“I feel really good. To get to the end and see all my friends and family there cheering me on, I’m absolutely buzzing,” he told the Echo as he finished the trek.

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Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell completes his year-long half marathon walking challenge.

"I want to say thank you to everyone here who supported me over the last year, especially my partner Denise who has been there the whole way for me.”

What started out as a walk to support his dad David, 70, who was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in March 2020, sadly turned into a mission in his memory after he died two weeks into the challenge.

Since then, David has also lost work colleague and friend Lance Corporal Dean ‘Deano’ Ashworth, who faced his own battle with cancer, aged just 31.

David’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as he has been shortlisted for the Pride of the North East Awards, the North East Charity Awards 2021 and has received a Flame of Hope award from Cancer Research UK.

Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell completes his year-long half marathon walking challenge.

David has also managed to lose around 2.5st during the challenge, went through nine pairs of trainers and has clocked up 8.6million steps.

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East, said: “David’s achievement is phenomenal. To have kept going every day no matter what the weather or the aches and pains. He really is an inspiration.

“Every day that he has been out in his blue charity t-shirt has helped not only raise vital funds but raise awareness and spread the word about the vital work our researchers do.

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Squadron Sergeant Major David Ansell partner Denise Boyers hands over a pint after completing his year long half marathon walking challenge.
David completed the walk in all types of weather
David on remembrance day 2020