The jockey who recovered from cancer and went on to win the Grand National dropped in to say thank you to the Wasdell Group for sponsoring his 40th anniversary fundraising walk.
Bob Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer in July 1979 but, after gruelling treatment, got back in the saddle and less than two years later won the Grand National on Aldaniti. He went on to establish the Bob Champion Cancer Trust which has raised more than £15m for the Bob Champion Cancer Research Laboratory, a research facility dedicated to treating male cancers.
Forty years on from his spectacular Grand National win, Bob has been walking a 191-mile route to raise more funds for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust. The 191 miles represent the 191 days between his initial cancer diagnosis and receiving the all-clear.
Rather than walking a linear route, Bob has been covering the distance by walking the gallops at 40 race horse trainers’ yards and places that have featured in his long and illustrious career.
The Wasdell Group, which is one of Europe’s largest independent partners to the pharmaceutical industry, has sponsored Bob’s 40th anniversary fundraiser. Wasdell’s chairman, Martin Tedham, a keen racehorse owner who also sponsors Jonjo O’Neill Racing, said he jumped at the chance to support essential research into treating cancer.
“Bob Champion’s story of surviving cancer and the amazing contribution he has since made towards funding research into the disease is legendary,” said Martin.
“I have spent decades working closely with partners who develop life-saving drugs for serious illnesses, and in the spare time that I have, I love nothing better than dropping into Jackdaws Castle to see the great progress my friends Jonjo and Jacqui O’Neill are making with my racehorses, including Sky Pirate who won at this year’s Cheltenham festival, so I feel an affinity with what Bob is doing.
“I sadly lost my wife Carol to cancer three years ago, and of course Jonjo has also had to deal with cancer in the past, so it’s an absolute privilege to support Bob in such a worthy endeavour.”
Bob and Martin Tedham met up at Jonjo O’Neill’s Jackdaws Castle yard to check out the gallops before Bob completed one of his walks there. Bob and his crew, which includes George Smith of George Smith Horseboxes who is driving the Bob Champion Cancer Trust horsebox, were also given a guided tour of the Wasdell premises by Martin Tedham when they called in to the group’s Swindon headquarters at Blagrove.