Teacher Mary picks up the challenge for brother Mike

When teacher Mary Massey picked up the 2.6 Challenge, she knew exactly who she wanted to support – her brother Mike.

Mike Thomas is being treated for bowel cancer so Mary chose to raise funds for Bowel & Cancer Research. Her mission: to walk 26,000 steps with her faithful collie Nym.

The pair set off at 8am and strode home less than five hours later, having covered approximately 15 km on footpaths near Mary’s home in Dorrington, Shropshire.

She was delighted that friends, colleagues and family have supported her to the tune of more than £500.

“I wanted to do something which was difficult enough to be challenging but not impossible,” said Mary, the Deputy Principal at The Priory School in Longden Road, Shrewsbury.

“I’m lucky that when I leave my front door I’m in the countryside so walking locally was easy.”

She explained that her school chooses three charities every year.

“Our fundraising target this year was £15,000 but because of coronavirus lockdown, it was clear we weren’t going to make the final £3,000. So we agreed that anyone could take up the 2.6 Challenge and share the proceeds with the charity of their choice.

I chose Bowel & Cancer Research to show my support for my brother Mike who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January and is a third of the way through chemo. I can't go and give him a hug as he copes with side-effects and self-isolation so this will have to do instead.

Mike, 55, was touched by his sister’s gesture and spent much of the morning texting messages of support.

“The phone kept pinging all the way – the support I got from friends and family was amazing. I had to stop to recharge the battery at one stage,” said Mary.

“I set out determinedly and tried to focus on what I was doing and why. I fell over once – but no harm done. And Nym didn’t stop running at all – she has boundless energy.

I’m glad to be able to support a cause which often gets neglected because people  are sometimes embarrassed to talk about bowel disease.

A spokesperson for Bowel & Cancer Research thanked Mary for her support. “We wish Mike well on his road to recovery. Our mission is to ensure that no one should die of bowel cancer in future and we can only do that with the help of our fantastic fundraisers,” she said.

“The coronavirus has made this year particularly challenging for all charities and we are therefore doubly grateful that Mary (and Nym) stepped up to help.”

Anyone who wants to support Mary can do so at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MaryMassey