Dave Andrews tells us how his cancer diagnosis led to the creation of the 33-mile walking challenge.
It was a shock, as you’d expect, to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was feeling perfectly healthy and fit. I was leading an active lifestyle - running, playing cricket and climbing mountains. It took me a long time to come to terms with my situation and at first I kept my news from my family and nearly all my friends too. This seems strange now as I’m a community co-ordinator for Lingen Davies Cancer Fund and I represent them at various events where I talk openly about my experience.
It was the urge to give something back for the wonderful treatment I received at the Lingen Davies Cancer Centre at Shrewsbury Hospital that made me offer to become a community co-ordinator for the Oswestry area. But I wanted to do more. I’ve been able to raise money for the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund by organising concerts and also by running the London Marathon. I also wanted to do something hopefully longer-lasting.
I’d already published seven books, including three guides to the mountains of Wales. So I decided to create a local walk - a 33-mile circular route around Oswestry called The Oswestry Round! I can still remember the night I looked at the Oswestry map to devise the route. I know the area well and it soon took shape.
Out of the blue I received an invitation to talk to Oswestry Borderland Rotary Club. I talked about my idea for a book to raise money for Lingen Davies Cancer Fund and Cancer Research UK. Fortunately they were impressed and keen to support me. They provided a considerable sum to help pay for the first print-run and one of their members - who has since become a close friend - was able to get businesses to place adverts which meant all our costs were covered.
‘The Oswestry Round’ book came out in November 2014 and in its first month sold far more copies than I could ever have imagined. I immediately started working on a follow-up book, ‘Gobowen to Everest’, which is based on a diary I kept when I once travelled to Everest Base Camp. In the meantime we started planning the first Oswestry Round Challenge (ORC) for June 2016. We have a great little committee and a large team of other volunteers who help with marshalling and other matters.
That first ORC was a great success and it attracted people from all parts of the country. So we decided to do it again in 2017 and once again last year. It’s amazing to think that in its first three years the ORC has raised over £40k. It’s also amazing to think that we’re now getting ready for the fourth ORC - on Saturday 15 June.
The whole day is a great experience and a lot of fun. Apart from the wonderful scenery and the exercise, you get to meet people from different places - and it’s all in a good cause. The event is not just for experienced walkers either. We get people who simply like a challenge. We get individuals but also teams and groups.
Most people opt to do the whole route - which is 33 miles - but there’s the option to do just half the route too. Anyone who wants to enter the ORC can do so via our website - www.oswestryround.co.uk We’re always glad to hear from anyone who wants to help in other ways. People can contact Annie at [email protected]