A 15-year-old son and grandson of two Bristol Freemasons has completed four endurance challenges in six weeks to raise over £5,000 for a national prostate cancer charity
When Dr Richard Hayes was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in April this year, his grandson Edward felt pretty powerless and didn’t know what to do to help, so he decided to undertake a series of challenges to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. A retired GP, Richard was having an annual PSA blood test due to a family history of the disease.
Even though he had no symptoms, his PSA level was a little bit raised, which prompted referral to a specialist. The specialist turned out to be a member of his own lodge in Bristol, but unfortunately after he was investigated it was shown that the cancer had already spread to his bones.
Edward spoke to his teachers at Beechen Cliff School in Bath about what he could do to try and raise money. As Edward recalls: 'My school organises lots of outdoor activities and the teachers organise training and supervision to allow us to take part in a number of events. Normally, we would do one or two of these, but this year I thought I would do the Ten Tors, The March for Men, National Three Peaks Challenge and Centurion Challenge all together, to try to raise money to support Prostate Cancer UK and make sure that more people are aware of this disease and try to help men get diagnosed earlier so that they can be treated.'
For the Ten Tors, Edwards was the leader of his team which involved hiking 35 miles over the rough terrain of Dartmoor at the end of May 2018, visiting 10 different nominated tors in under two days. In the middle of June, he took part in The March for Men in Bristol. Organised by Prostate Cancer UK, it gives families the opportunity to walk in support or in memory of someone they know with prostate cancer. Edward did this walk with the rest of his family, but to make sure it was a proper endurance challenge he ran the whole 10K course twice.
In the last weekend in June, Edward completed the National Three Peaks Challenge with lots of other pupils from his school. This involved climbing the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales over one weekend – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon. They walked 23 miles and climbed the overall total of 10,052ft.
The last challenge was the school’s annual Centurion Challenge. This event has been running at the school for 50 years now and is a 100 mile walk from Bath to Hungerford and back. It must be completed within 48 hours in order to be a “Centurion”. Yet because it was so hot this year, for safety reasons, the walk was shortened to 50 miles in 24 hours.
Edward added: 'I was really disappointed because I wanted to do the full 100, but the teachers had to make sure we were all safe. Even though he’s on chemotherapy at the moment, my grandpa got to watch me come in at the finish and gave me a massive hug. We were both a bit tearful. I had a big blister on my heel, but I managed to complete the course in 8hrs 57 minutes.
'My dad is a Freemason in Bristol and last year he was Provincial Senior Grand Warden, so when they heard about grandpa’s illness, lots of the people in Bristol lodges sent me sponsorship money to support my fundraising. It’s brilliant what fundraising support the Bristol masons have given me and I hope that I can join my grandpa’s lodge when I’m old enough.
'When I got home after the Centurion Challenge, my great uncle Roy, who is a Freemason in Gloucestershire, presented me with an old ice axe. He was one of the first young people to do the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in 1959 and went on an expedition to Greenland with Sir John Hunt and Sir Edmund Hillary, who were both famous mountaineers. This was the axe that he took on that expedition and he gave it to me to celebrate successfully finishing these challenges. I’m really grateful to everyone who has sponsored me for doing these four events, to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.'
Prostate Cancer affects one in eight men in the UK. A man who has a father or brother who has been diagnosed, is two and a half times more likely to also be affected. You can contribute to the fundraising initiative here.