Huntingdon gymnastics coach raises more than £950 for the Woodlands Cancer Centre

Ben Howells presents a cheque for £953.75 to Woodlands oncologist Dr Cheryl Palmer.

Ben Howells presents a cheque for £953.75 to Woodlands oncologist Dr Cheryl Palmer. - Credit: Archant

The extra special standard of care given by staff at the Woodlands Cancer Centre in Huntingdon inspired a father-of-three to raise more than £950 for its extension appeal.

Ben Howells, head boys coach at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, wanted to do something to help the unit after his father, Adrian, received treatment there for three bouts of cancer.

The 64-year-old, of Hartford Road, Huntingdon, was first diagnosed with bowel cancer, followed by two lots of secondary lung cancer.

“The care he has received amounts to about eight years. Dr Cheryl Palmer, oncologist, the lead cancer clinician at Woodlands, is somebody very special indeed to my parents and our family.”

Mr Howells, from Stukeley Meadows, who is 38, said he had wanted to run the London Marathon before he was 40 so decided to do so in aid of the appeal, which is closing in on its £800,000 target.

“I’m not a runner. I applied a gymnastics’ brain to training. I had a goal of beating the golden four-hour mark but I trod on a water bottle about five miles in and twisted my ankle,” he said.

“I hopped for a mile but thought there’s no way I’m giving up, so jogged it and did it in four-and-a-half hours.

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“It was quite possibly the worst, best thing I’ve done. It was the most pain I had ever been though, the most psychologically demanding for will power and not giving up, but the atmosphere and reason I was doing it cancelled all that out – and I will do it again.”

Mr Howells split the proceeds between Woodlands and the gymnastics club, where he has worked since he was about 21.

The cheque was presented on Friday, September 5, and fittingly it was accepted by Dr Palmer.

Mr Howells said the donation was made in heartfelt gratitude for the excellent treatment and care his dad had received.

He added: “Dad has said many times ‘She is not only a brilliant oncologist but one of the nicest human beings on the planet’.”