Ex-jockey Bob Champion says operation was not going to stop him collecting CBE

Former jockey Bob Champion said an operation to remove a tumour and a brush with pneumonia were not going to stop him from collecting his CBE.

The 1981 Grand National winner described how he became “really ill” after undertaking a walk to raise money for his charity, the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, in April and May.

The 40 For 40 Anniversary walk saw him trek 191 miles on a non-linear route to mark the 191 days of cancer treatment he underwent from 1979 to 1980.

It also celebrated 40 years since his win on Aldaniti.

Bob Champion is made a CBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle
Bob Champion is made a CBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Describing the walk, he told the PA news agency: “It was painful because I had to have half a kidney out (afterwards) as I had a tumour on it. They couldn’t operate in that month anyway because there wasn’t space because of Covid.

“I finished the walk and had the operation a few days later. That was hard because the operation took about five hours. I was in intensive care for a week and got pneumonia on top of it because the operation was so long.

“I feel 95% fit now, but to begin with it was hard work.

“I’m on good form (today). I was gonna get here though, don’t worry about that.”

Champion was given the award at Windsor Castle by the Princess Royal for his charitable services to prostate and testicular cancer research.

The charity has raised more than £15 million for research over the past 38 years.

Baroness Campbell of Loughborough is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle
Baroness Campbell of Loughborough is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Also being recognised during the investiture ceremony was Sue Campbell, Baroness of Loughborough and the director of women’s football at the FA.

Baroness Campbell received her damehood, while the president of Wales Rugby League, Mike Nicholas, collected his MBE.

Nurse Ashleigh Linsdell, who received an OBE for her contribution to the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic, said the Princess Royal joked with her about the birth of her child, who is due in a few weeks.

“The first thing she said to me was, ‘So you’re an A&E nurse? You’re not going to be an A&E nurse for much longer!'”

Mrs Linsdell, founder For the Love of Scrubs, a group that encouraged people to make PPE for health workers, said Anne did not give her any tips about her upcoming birth, adding: “This isn’t my first born and she did point out that at least I know what I’m doing.”

Ashleigh Linsdell
Ashleigh Linsdell (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Television presenter Gok Wan was also due to collect his MBE for services to fashion and social awareness but cancelled his appearance due to a chest infection.

A spokeswoman confirmed he was ill and was “devastated” he could not be at the ceremony as he “really wanted to go”, adding he did not have Covid-19.