Monday 11th February 2019

South West

John on a Teenage Cancer Trust trek in Namibia“It was 1999, the year after Anne died,” John said. “I remember I was in a café reading the newspaper, as I did most days, when I came across the article. There was a picture of a young boy, in shorts, with his leg amputated – bone cancer. The article was about this charity, Teenage Cancer Trust, who had supported him and his family after he was diagnosed with cancer. Underneath the story was a phone number which said ‘to find out more or to get involved, call us here’.”

Having worked with teenagers for most of his life and after losing his wife to cancer, John felt moved by the article and decided to call up Teenage Cancer Trust.

“I spoke to a lady on reception and she said they would send me something in the post. The next week a letter came with a poster that had MACHU PICCHU TREK on the front. I had never been travelling. I’d only ever been to Italy once before with my wife, but I thought I’d give it a go," said John.

John decided to take part in the trek and joined the 1999 Inca Trail group raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust. Twenty years on, and now 80 years old, John has been on twenty international treks for the charity and has raised around £75,000!

To me, as I’m sure to others, it’s been completely life-changing; life-enhancing. Clichés can’t even sum up the wonder of it all.

John is part of a regular group of trekkers that fundraise for Teenage Cancer Trust and trek together all over the world, including destinations in Central America, Africa, South America and South East Asia. As well as trekking together, the group organises yearly reunions to share stories and photographs and plan for their next adventure which this year will be France! 

“The camaraderie and togetherness of these treks is just awesome,” John said. “It’s different, trekking with Teenage Cancer Trust. It’s quite special what we’re like. Ultimately, we are raising money for these teenagers and young adults with cancer, but we get so much from these treks too.”

John on a trek

In 2018, John celebrated his 80th birthday with his 20th trek. A group of 14 journeyed to the mountains of Kerala, spending the 6 day trek exploring the many beautiful sites of Southern India. “I tell people I’m celebrating a century,” said John. “80 years old plus 20th year trekking.”

John is an inspiration to all of us in the office,” said Claire O’Sullivan, Challenges Executive at Teenage Cancer Trust. “It’s amazing that at the age of 80 he takes part year after year in the treks and raises thousands of pounds for the charity."

It just goes to show that you’re never too old to try something new in life!

“The trek, the people involved, and the togetherness gives me the spirit to keep going, year on year,” said John. 

Teenage Cancer Trust inspired me to challenge myself. Little did I know how life-changing this was going to be.

John at base camp

It costs over £600,000 a year to maintain our specialist units, fund our specialist staff and support the free cancer awareness sessions that are delivered in schools, colleges and universities across the South West. We rely solely on donations and fundraising by local communities and individuals like John to support our work with young people with cancer.

Sign up for a challenge now or get in touch with us to find out more