A former hotel manager who recently finished treatment for prostate cancer is walking double the distance of the Yorkshire Wolds Way to raise vital funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Paul Vinsen, from Beverley, has taken on the 158-mile challenge as part of Tour de Walkshire, a new campaign led by Yorkshire Cancer Research and Welcome to Yorkshire.
During May, people across the region are being encouraged to walk, cycle or run in support of the charity, which funds experts and world-leading researchers who pioneer early cancer diagnosis, reduce cancer risk and discover new and better treatments for people with cancer.
The campaign has already raised £80,000 for the charity, with nearly 1,000 people signing up to take part.
Paul was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2019 after seeing his GP with symptoms. He had 20 sessions of radiotherapy at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull, coupled with hormone therapy. He is now in remission.
The 75-year-old began walking regularly as a way of coping with his diagnosis and treatment, and it became what he describes as a ‘religion’ for him.
“I wasn’t as active before being diagnosed with cancer, but during my treatment I would walk four miles every day. I found it helped me to get some exercise and get out in the fresh air. I just felt better.”
When Tour de Walkshire was announced, Paul realised he could continue to enjoy the benefits of walking while raising funds for research to improve early diagnosis and treatment right across Yorkshire.
He will be completing two times the distance of the Yorkshire Wolds Way, a national trail which stretches from the banks of the Humber estuary in Hessle to the dramatic headland of Filey Brigg.
Paul has already completed 55 miles towards his target and has raised more than £400 for Yorkshire Cancer Research, exceeding his initial fundraising goal.
Paul said: “I decided to up my game for Tour de Walkshire and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s been an opportunity to take part in my regular walks around Beverley, but also discover new Yorkshire walks as the month progresses.
“I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of the Tour de Walkshire Facebook group, where people have shared photos from their own challenges in different parts of the region. Friends have also joined me for some of my walks and it’s been nice to have a conversation while clocking up the miles.”
Paul is keen to use his participation in Tour de Walkshire as an opportunity to promote East Yorkshire as a walking destination – something he has been passionate about for many years.
He said: “I feel very lucky to have lived in East Yorkshire for over 40 years. I’ve grown to respect and love the Wolds landscape with its big skies and beautiful coastline. It’s not the first place in Yorkshire that comes to mind but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.”
Following his cancer diagnosis, Paul has spoken to many other people who have been through similar experiences. He now hopes to encourage others to seek medical advice if they are worried about possible symptoms, particularly during the pandemic when GPs have seen a decline in people coming forward.
He added: “Being diagnosed with cancer gave me a jolt. It took some time to rationalise and realise that I could be treated. Thankfully, the cancer had been found early, which increased my treatment options.
“I’m very concerned about people not being diagnosed during the pandemic, and I’d like to play my part in raising awareness. We are building up quite the storm and a real effort now needs to be made to catch up. Yorkshire Cancer Research is playing an important role in the fight against this killer disease, and I want to do my little bit to help.”
Juliet Glendinning, Director of Brand and Relationships at Yorkshire Cancer Research said: “It’s been amazing to see so many people, from all walks of life and all parts of the county, getting active, clocking up the miles and enjoying the beautiful scenery we have here in Yorkshire.
“We are immensely grateful to each and every person who has dedicated time and effort to raising funds to help save lives in Yorkshire – sometimes battling heavy rain and hail to reach their goal and inspire more sponsorship.”
To sponsor Paul, visit his fundraising page.