Wigan teacher recognised by Cancer Research UK for £100,000 fund-raising effort in memory of mum

Paul Townshend
Paul Townshend

A Wigan teacher who started fund-raising after his mum’s death 10 years ago has been given Cancer Research’s volunteer of the year award after raising £100,000 in donations.

Paul Townshend from Orrell, has been given the “Flame of Hope - Fund-raising volunteer of the year” award by Cancer Research UK for his phenomenal effort over the past decade.

Avril Townshend

Avril Townshend

And poignantly the dad-of-one, who teaches PE at The Deanery High School, reached his £100,000 landmark on the 10th anniversary of his mum’s death.

The 36-year-old was inspired to start fund-raising when his mum, Avril Townshend, died from an aggressive form of cancer when she was just 65.

“Losing my mum was incredibly hard as she was so young at the time, but raising money for Cancer Research UK has become a passion,” he said. “I want to stop other families facing the same heart-ache in the future.”

Over the years he has arranged numerous events, including the annual “Wheels of Steel” bike ride from Wigan to Lancaster and back and at the weekend Paul and a group of 50 friends and family completed the tenth annual event.

He was put forward for the award by his Cancer Research UK representative, who told judges he was a “joy to work with.”

“I am really proud of winning this,” said Paul, who travelled to a glitzy ceremony in London to receive the honour.

“We had a great day and it was inspiring to meet other like-minded fundraisers from all over the UK.

“It’s not about me though it’s about everyone who has helped along the way.

“The pupils at school, my work, friends there has been some incredible efforts over the years.

“I’m definitely planning on carrying on for the foreseeable future. At this year’s Wheels of Steel we have the youngest rider we have ever had, he’s 12.

“I need to carry on until my one-year-old son George is old enough to join in.”

Paul was among a total of 55 individuals and groups from all across the UK recognised at the awards ceremony.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.

“These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like Paul who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return.

“It’s thanks to the support of the fundraising public and our amazing army of volunteers that we can continue to make a real difference for a cancer cure”

Paul was accompanied on his 100 Mile Bike Ride (Take 10) by his team: Paul Townshend, James Derbyshire, Chris Sweeney, Oscar Sweeney, John McHugh, Dan Ralphs, Neil Bailey,

Chris Nestor, Chris Kohler, Michael Jones, Stu Makin, Will Li, Gregg Dinsmore, Gary Tucker, Ste Johnson, Liam Nunn, Ste Hunter, Matthew Parkinson, Sean Kellogs, David Roche, Dale Rourke, Sam Sheen, Paul Lindley, Andy Brown, Dan Mason, Kris Ratcliffe, Neil Brown, Paul Santus, Matt Dennison, Alex Reeves, Royston Grundy, Martyn Hunter, Maff Wood, Ash Calloway, Matt Seddon, Sam Dickinson, Tom Winrow, Chris Southern, Bri Hatton, James Brazier, Michael Caslin, Matt Schleiner, Paul Burley, Andy Cooper, Liam Moore, Rob Knight, Andy Makin, Nigel Walsh, Ric Sheard, David Pimblett, Tim Walker, Andy Smith, Matthew Pickering, David Gleave

To donate visit https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/paultownshendteamwheelsofsteel10