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Fundraiser Mike Fitzsimons joins the Shorne and Cobham Stride at Shorne Country Park on Sunday

The annual Shorne and Cobham Stride has always been an important fundraising walk for Cancer Research UK.

But this Sunday it will have extra special meaning for organiser Mike Fitzsimons as the 72-year-old has himself undergone treatment for prostate cancer.

Mr Fitzsimons, who is chairman of the Gravesend and Northfleet branch of CRUK, was diagnosed with the disease in March after a routine blood test.

Mike and Gay Fitzsimons
Mike and Gay Fitzsimons

He began a course of hormone tablets before undergoing radiotherapy five days a week for almost eight weeks.

He is not letting his illness stop him in his fundraising efforts and will take his usual place at the starting line at Shorne Country Park.

He said: “I had had an enlarged prostate for some time and earlier this year my doctor reminded me I hadn’t been for an annual check up.

“The blood test came back to say I had a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) reading of 11, and it should be a lot lower than that.

“I was referred to the urology department at Darent Valley Hospital and it was only on my second appointment that I was told the cancer was contained within the prostate and the consultant started me that very moment on feminine hormones.

“I then started radiotherapy on June 9 at Maidstone Hospital and had it every day for five days a week, until September 26.

“I am still feeling quite tired but I’ll be at the Shorne Stride, helping to organise the day, while my wife, Gay, will be doing the walk herself, as she has done every year.”

This will be the 10th Shorne and Cobham Stride but this year the colour theme is orange rather than the usual pink.

For the first time in its history, runners are also being invited to join in, and one of those will be Gravesham mayor, Cllr John Caller.

Participants can follow 1km, 3km and 10km routes on the 288-acre ancient site. The longest walk also takes in the grounds of Cobham Hall School, Cobham village and Ashenden Woods.

Children and dogs are welcome to take part, and the 1km route is accessible to wheelchair users and pushchairs.

Shorne and Cobham Stride starts at 10am, although fitness instructors hold pre-walk warm-up sessions.

To register or for more information go to www.cancerresearch.org.uk and search ‘Stride’, or contact Mr Fitzsimons on 01474 321329 and fellow organiser Linda Delieu on 01634 850733 or lindadelieu176@btinternet.com

Christine Cunningham, Linda Delieu, Ben Gee
Christine Cunningham, Linda Delieu, Ben Gee

Mike Fitzsimons, who lives in Chalk Park, Lower Higham Road, Gravesend, was appointed chairman of the Gravesend and Northfleet committee 15 years ago.

Under his leadership, it has just chalked up the amazing achievement of having raised £1m for CRUK.

Shorne and Cobham Stride is its largest fundraiser.

All money collected or donated goes to fund research and treatment at Darent Valley and other hospitals in Kent.

Mr Fitzsimons is due to find out the results of his radiotherapy next month but will continue with hormone injections for the next three years.

He said: “It can hit every age but it’s important that men really do go for that blood test.”

Fellow fundraiser and walk organiser Christine Cunningham, who herself has raised £100,000 for CRUK since her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, died from cancer 16 years ago, said Mr Fitzsimons’ diagnosis was a great incentive to take part this year.

She said: “This makes it real, because while we choose to raise funds to fight cancer, it shows it doesn’t make us immune.”

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