A GREAT British Bake Off finalist is taking on a marathon challenge to raise thousands of pounds for Dorset County Hospital, where her father is currently receiving treatment for cancer.

2019 Great British Bake Off finalist, Steph Blackwell, will be running a virtual marathon alongside her uncle John Blackwell - the leader of the Red Arrows in 1982-1984.

The pair are taking on the challenge in honour of Steph's father and John's younger brother, Roger Blackwell, from Charlton Down, who is being treated at DCH for terminal cancer.

Roger was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January and, after receiving treatment, doctors gave him the devastating news that he also had bowel cancer which is terminal.

Roger was offered the chance to begin treatment immediately after his second cancer was diagnosed but, on advice of doctors, delayed starting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Steph, who lives with her mum in Chester, was heartbroken when she heard the diagnosis and told her father has just two years to live, but she has channelled her sadness into determination to complete the marathon and raise as much money as possible for DCH and Cancer Research UK.

She said: "It was a massive shock when my dad rang me and told me, but I am determined to do something positive. I've never been so passionate about something and I've thrown everything I have at it. The core of this is that I feel like I'm on the journey with dad and I want to raise money and awareness of cancer."

Steph was originally due to take part in the London Marathon in April which was cancelled because of the pandemic. Organisers have instead launched the 'virtual' marathon where participants can race anywhere around the world. Steph, 29, and John, 70, will run the 26.2 miles near John's home in West Sussex.

The pair have set up a justgiving page and already raised more than £15,000. Their initial target was just £1,000 but after they smashed that in just three hours, they have set a new target of £25,000 which they hope to hit by the time they cross the finish line.

Steph said: "I will feel really nervous on the day. It is going to be a massive personal challenge but I am doing this with so much support and I know my family and friends will be holding my hands the whole way and I will feel huge pride for that."

You can donate to Steph and John's justgiving page at cruk.org/steph


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