Team Oban takes Big Step Forward for Pancreatic Cancer UK

Adrian Beard cheers on Team Oban

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People from as far away as Australia and Norway joined this year’s Team Oban 24-hour walkathon, raising more than £10,000 for Pancreatic Cancer UK.

In total, the top team notched up an incredible 931 miles for the Big Step Forward  on July 16-17 more than doubling their target.

This was Team Oban’s second year taking up the virtual UK-wide challenge that saw 123 people, aged between two and 72, walk legs of the Gallanach Loop keeping a safe social-distance. Adding to their steps, there were 47 other people who joined them from locations such as Ben Cruachan, Edinburgh, Crieff, Aviemore, Arran, North Uist, Farnham, Northumberland, Stonehenge, Manchester, Sussex, Tromsø in Norway and Melbourne in Australia.

 

The Davies boys on Arran with their handmade poster.
Emily Venables and friend in Tromsø Norway
Tom Sharpe, Norman Clarke and the Rae family ready to stride out for The Big Step Forward.
Finlo and Liz Cottier with Angela and Adrian Beard.
The Bruce family give their support.
Fergus and Finlay Beard just before doing laps on their bikes.
MacPherson, Campbell and Hughes families showing their support.
Dawn Crosby PCUK Scotland with Finlo Cottier.
Ellie Cooper and Stephen Day just before they ran two laps of the loop.
Colonel Ross Wilson (retired), 72, was also walking for Pancreatic Cancer UK

Team Oban also had the support of the 37th Argyll Scout Group, where Connel man Adrian Beard was cub leader and Group Scout leader until his pancreatic cancer diagnosis forced him to retire.

It was Adrian’s good friend Finlo Cottier who organised the first Team Oban last year, taking on the virtual walk for Pancreatic Cancer UK (PCUK) and  bringing 81 people together raising £6,500. Finlo’s mum Linda passed away from the disease in 2014.

Adrian, 50, was diagnosed with stage 1 pancreatic cancer in May 2020, five years after his own mum Sue died from the same cancer.

After six gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, Adrian underwent an 11-hour operation to remove his pancreas and spleen, and as a result became diabetic overnight, he says the support he has received throughout from PCUK has been ‘incredible’.

Despite more chemo, Adrian has since been told his cancer has spread to his liver but he is living positively.

Adrian was at this year’s event with his beard dyed the charity’s purple. PCUK’s head of Scotland Dawn Crosby and Finlo kicked off the walk, starting their lap to Wings played by the Corps Band of the Royal Engineers – Adrian served 24 years with the Corp during his British Army career.

PCUK supports patients and their loved ones as well as funding life-saving research. Money from the Big Step Forward will go towards delivering projects into desperately needed new treatments and earlier diagnosis. The walk was also about raising awareness of how tough the disease is to beat.

Finlo said: ‘When we first decided to have a 24-hour Walkathon last year we had a target of £500. A year on and we have exceeded £10,000 for PCUK – but more significantly we connected with each other. There was a huge amount of support for Adrian and his family and we were reminded of what a special community we are all a part of.’

Adrian said: ‘This year I set my fundraising target at £5,000 and thought that it would be tough to reach, little did I know that it would be doubled! Last year I shared my diagnosis to my friends and family on Facebook and have had an out pouring of love and support both locally and globally over the intervening period, it has been truly uplifting.

‘This event was all about connecting people, being positive and supportive to each other. At the end of the day all that matters is the relationships that we have, so it was amazing to see even more people come together for this event. It was once again a truly amazing, inspirational and memorable day.’

More than £120 was also donated on the day of the walk by people passing by Team Oban’s base camp, near Oban Sailing Club.

Nationally, PCUK broke through its original fundraising target of £180,000 to more than £200,000.

Dawn said: ‘We were delighted that Team Oban took on The Big Step Forward for a second year and I was privileged to join Finlo on the first leg to kick the 24-hour relay off. We were amazed when they smashed their initial target, and then went on to more than double it! The incredible amount raised will support researchers to speed up diagnosis and improve treatments. We would like to thank them all for helping us take strides against this devastating disease.

‘We had a further 150 walkers in Team Scotland taking on The Big Step Forward this year. By walking together, we can create change to save lives.’

Around 850 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year in Scotland. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival of all of the 20 most common cancers in the UK, with just seven per cent of people living for five years after diagnosis. Despite the disease’s appallingly low survival statistics, which have remained unchanged for 50 years, pancreatic cancer receives only three per cent of the annual UK cancer research budget.

You can still donate to Team Oban by visiting this web page: https://bit.ly/3rjyNdN