Nick Atkins, from East Grinstead, is celebrating after completing 30 challenges between his 30th and 31st birthdays, and raising £8,000 for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of his mother.
Nick chose to support the charity after his mum, Judith Atkins, died of pancreatic cancer in November 2013, aged 57.
When Nick decided to take on the year of fundraising after his 30th birthday, he initially thought that just a few of his closest friends would support and join him.
But when he set up a Facebook page for the challenge, he very quickly had 200 ‘likes’, sponsorship money was rolling in and old friends were getting in touch asking to join him on events he was taking part in.
Nick said he was amazed by the response and the challenge quickly became a far bigger success, both in terms of raising funds and spreading the word about pancreatic cancer far and wide, than he had ever hoped.
Between June and November this year, Nick was busy with his challenges almost every weekend. Just a few events he ticked off the list included cycling from London to Paris, taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge, conquering a Half Ironman Triathlon, and running the Edinburgh Marathon, which he said was the hardest physical challenge.
Not everything he did was sporting – Nick also sampled 100 different beers over a few months, spent a week as a vegan and went for 90 days without any hot drinks.
Nick completed his final challenge on his 31st birthday, Saturday November 7, when he finished a five day cycle ride from the Lake District, where his family run a B&B, to London.
Pancreatic Cancer UK staff and Nick’s supporters cheered him into their office in central London, and Nick presented them with a cheque for the total amount raised so far.
Nick said: “After my mum died of pancreatic cancer, I really wanted to do something in her memory, and also to increase awareness about the disease because before mum was diagnosed, I didn’t really know anything about pancreatic cancer. I suspect that is the case for a lot of people.
“Once I started telling family and friends about my challenge, the support just grew and grew. I was amazed both by the number of my friends and colleagues who had been touched by pancreatic cancer, and by the amount of people who not only wanted to sponsor me but wanted to take part in an event too. Even people who I had not seen for a long time wanted to get involved.
“It was tough at times because the challenges took up so much time and energy and were so physically demanding – but it really was worth the effort and it was a fantastic feeling to complete it. I want to say a big thank you to my wife Catherine, who has been an incredible support, and has taken part in lots of the challenges too.”
Nick added: “We’re looking forward to reclaiming some of our weekends for ourselves – as we spent a huge part of the first year of our married life planning and completing the challenges!”
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK and is predicted to become the fourth largest cancer killer, overtaking breast cancer, by 2030. Pancreatic Cancer UK is the only national charity fighting the disease on all fronts, by offering support and information, campaigning on behalf of patients and families, and funding crucial research into the disease.
Leeann Wilmer, Community and Events Manager at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “We are so grateful to Nick for taking on this mammoth year of fundraising challenges for us. He and Catherine have shown such commitment and dedication, which everyone at the charity hugely appreciates. We would also like to thank all Nick’s supporters for helping to make the challenge such an enormous success.
“Like so many of our supporters, Nick has tragically lost a loved one to this terrible disease, which one person is diagnosed with every hour in the UK. But it is so positive to see him be inspired to raise funds to help others facing the disease. Without people like Nick we simply could not continue our vital work offering support to anyone affected by pancreatic cancer, and funding vital research into the disease, so we are very grateful.”
For more information about pancreatic cancer, visit www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.midsussextimes.co.uk
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/midsussextimes
3) Follow us on Twitter @midsussex_times
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Mid Sussex Times - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.