THE legendary Bob Champion has shrugged off pain from a kidney tumour to walk 191 miles in 40 days for his cancer charity.
Brave Bob, 72, will lose part, or even all, of his kidney, in an operation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, in the next two weeks.
But it takes more than a crippling back pain to stop this iconic warrior from doing his utmost for people worse off than himself.
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On April 11, the day following this year’s Grand National, battling Bob set off to walk the gallops of 40 racehorse trainers to raise funds for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which currently stands at a magnificent £15million.
His enormous challenge ended last Saturday at the Findon stables of Nick Gifford, whose father, Josh, trained Bob’s 1981 National hero, Aldaniti, from the exact spot where he completed his walk.
And to celebrate this emotional occasion, and holding back a tear or two, Bob was helped into the saddle for his first ride on a horse for more than ten years.
He was plainly exhausted, but broke into a smile to say: “People have joined in and helped the fund.
“Some of racing’s biggest trainers have given up their time to walk with me, and given generously.
“Besides the back pain, I’m fit and strong.
“I knew about the tumour before I set off, and I’d never let it stop me, as I’m committed to the cause. I had a job to do.”
And, in racing terms, he added: “I see it as another obstacle to get over. But if I lose the entire kidney, I’ll still have the other one, so I shall be pushing on.”
It was too early to know how much Bob had raised but he said: “I think it’s gone well, and £100,000 would be fantastic.
“I’d like to thank everyone. It’s been a terrific journey, and I even called in to see Aldaniti’s grave on the way, which brought the memories flooding back, and was quite moving.”
And he paid tribute to his close friend, Ian Watkinson, 72, who won eight races on the fabled Tingle Creek back in the Seventies.
He said: “Ian’s walked two miles with me today on two replacement knees and two replacement hips.
“I challenged him to 500 yards, but he wanted to show off a bit. That was a great effort!”
Watkinson’s warts-and-all biography, The Going Up Was Harder Than The Coming Down, will be published in June.
He said: “I’ve left nothing to the imagination. There’ll be quite a few surprises.”
Donate to the Bob Champion Cancer Trust Fund here
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