Cancer patient cycles hundreds of miles as public join Captain Tom challenge

Edd Dracott, PA

A terminal cancer patient cycling hundreds of miles and a stroke victim counting to 100 are amongst the fundraisers to have joined the Captain Tom 100 challenge.

The campaign asks people to create their own charity challenge themed around the number 100 to mark what would have been famous fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore’s 101st birthday.

Frank McEwan, has been cycling a century of 20-mile laps around Rutland Water, a reservoir in the East Midlands, and completed his 50th lap on Sunday.

The 74-year-old was diagnosed with cancer of the lung, kidney and thorax in August 2018, before being told the disease was terminal in 2020.

“I have friends who say ‘you’re bonkers’, I say ‘well, I’ve cycled all my life’,” Mr McEwan, from Belton, told the PA news agency.

“I can’t walk very well, I shuffle like an old man… when I walk around the village they see me shuffling and think ‘is he having us on?’.”

Mr McEwan, who was once a sergeant with the British Army’s infantry, said his walking has deteriorated as a result of his chemotherapy, but he has been a powerful cyclist since he was 42 – when he had a heart attack.

Frank McEwan has cycled around Rutland Water for years
Frank McEwan has cycled around Rutland Water for years (Courtesy of Frank McEwan)

“When I recovered from that I bought myself a good bike and used to cycle around Rutland water… I used to cycle around it every day for 19 years,” he explained.

Mr McEwan was inspired to join the Captain Tom 100 challenge after seeing Sir Tom’s family on television and said he is ‘amazed’ to now have raised over £2,500.

Elsewhere, Gary Yates, who is originally from Leicester but now lives in St Gallen, Switzerland, joined the campaign by counting to 100 for the first time since he suffered a major stroke.

The 58-year-old lost his ability to speak and is now cared for by his wife Pauline after he had a severe ischemic stroke two-and-a-half years ago.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am. There is only me who knows what he had to put into that every single day – he’s been practising for weeks,” Mrs Yates, 66, told PA.

“When we first saw Captain Tom on television I looked at it and I said to Gary, ‘if that guy at nearly 100 years of age can even think of doing something like this then there is no bounds for what you can do’.”

Mr Yates has raised more than £1,000 for the Stroke Association.

Marley Harris, six, challenged herself to complete 100,000 steps in 10 days and completed the final 9,000 on Sunday.

Joined on the walks by her mother Kathryn, she has raised more than £500 in the process for MyTime, a charity which supports young carers.

Marley Harris
Marley Harris, six, walked 100,000 steps in 10 days (Kathryn Harris)

“I want to help other children who might have poorly mummies or daddies or brothers or sisters to be able to do nice things,” Marley told PA.

In Standish, Wigan, Lois Rowland took on Sir Tom’s challenge by hula hooping continuously for 100 rotations to raise more than £365 for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust – completing the challenge live on Facebook.

I DID IT!!!100 consecutive hulas for #CaptainTom100 raising money for The Ectopic Pregnancy TrustThe Facebook Live cut…

Posted by Lois's EPT Fundraising on Saturday, May 1, 2021

“A friend gave me her old hula hoop she no longer used on the same day a friend of mine lost her 2nd fallopian tube to another ectopic pregnancy, so it all just seemed to come together in one crazy idea,” explained the 35-year-old.

“It feels an honour to be a part of the captain Tom 100 challenge. He was an inspiration to the whole nation.”

Ms Rowland had an ectopic pregnancy herself in 2011, describing it as “the most difficult time of my life”.

And in Sowerby Bridge near Halifax, West Yorkshire, six-year-old Toby Clarke baked and sold 100 cakes with his mother Hannah Gaukroger to raise more than £200 for Diabetes UK.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

“We got our bake on and stayed up late into the night Friday finishing off decorating gingerbread men,” the 32-year-old Ms Gaukroger told PA.

Off we went on Saturday to our local cricket club… a few hours later they were all gone.

“My grandma (Toby’s great-grandma) suffered with diabetes and sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 90… we hope (she) will be looking down and proud.”