Marathon hero Jeff Stelling triumphantly marched through the £1m fundraising barrier when completing a third epic walking challenge for Prostate Cancer UK – spanning four countries in four days.
The long-serving Sky Sports television presenter had already completed 25 walking marathons for the leading men’s health charity in 2016 and 2017, raising close to £800,000, and smashed through the cumulative £1m mark as he travelled to Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and London from 5-8 September 2019, clocking up 105 more miles.
Stelling was informed of the mega money milestone as he and the walkers congregated on the steps of the Emirates Stadium – the home of Arsenal – giving him the perfect fillip ahead of the final stretch of the march across North London to Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.
There was an emotional moment on the finish line when Lloyd Pinder, a man with incurable prostate cancer, who met Jeff on the second day of his first march in 2016 and has become good friends with the Soccer Saturday host, surprised Jeff by handing him his medal. Inside the ground, Jeff was presented with the cheque by Spurs heroes Ray Clemence and Ledley King.
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Jeff’s March for Men, supported by The Stars Group and Sky Bet, was part of Prostate Cancer UK’s wider walking programme, March for Men, which returned bigger and better in 2019.
Stelling, who was joined by more than 500 walkers across four days of walking, completed a third mega march this year, having walked from Hartlepool to Wembley and Exeter to Newcastle in 2016 and 2017 respectively to support Prostate Cancer UK in their quest to help stop prostate cancer being a killer.
“When we kicked off this adventure from Victoria Park in 2016, I never imagined that three years on I’d be standing here having helped to raise an incredible £1m for Prostate Cancer UK and with almost 30 walking marathons under my belt,” said Jeff, who regularly wears the Prostate Cancer UK Man of Men pin badge on Soccer Saturday, alongside panellists Charlie Nicholas and Matt Le Tissier, who both joined him on the march.
“It’s been an incredible journey, one I wouldn’t have managed without the fantastic support of the public, football clubs, football fans from across the four nations and everyone at Prostate Cancer UK.
“It looked fraught at times, with travel deadlines always looming in the back of our minds, but the passion and enthusiasm of my fellow walkers spurred us on to crossing that finish line. I’ve met some amazing people across all three challenges, and their stories and positivity will stay with me forever.
“These men, and their families, friends and loved ones, are the reason that I have marched over 750 miles since 2016. My legs aren’t thanking me now, but knowing that the extraordinary amount of money we’ve raised will fund life-saving research so that in years to come, prostate cancer will be a disease that men and their families need not fear, certainly eases the pain.
“I’m so proud to have played a part in the fight against prostate cancer, and I’m eternally grateful to the hundreds of walkers, volunteers, staff and celebrities who have been involved over the years.”
Stelling has now walked 750 miles for Prostate Cancer UK since 2016, the equivalent of walking from Hartlepool to Strasbourg, in Western France. This year he visited 16 football clubs, taking his three-walk tally to 89 – but was also faced with the added challenge of transport connections, including two flights across the Irish Sea.
Jeff’s 100-plus mile March for Men kicked off in Glasgow, at Hampden Park, home of the Scottish national team, and the nation’s oldest club, Queens Park, in the morning of 5th September, and also headed to city giants Rangers FC and Celtic FC before visiting Hamilton Academical and finishing at Motherwell FC.
He then boarded a plane to Belfast that evening, with day two starting at Northern Ireland Football League Premier League club Crusaders before culminating at Windsor Park, home of Linfield, as well as the Northern Ireland national team. The Belfast route also visited Cliftonville FC and Glentoran FC.
After flying back across the Irish Sea, Saturday 7th September saw him in Wales where he headed from League Two Newport County to Premier League Cardiff City and finished at the Principality Stadium.
A train into England followed that evening, before the final amble across London on 8th September, from West Ham United’s London Stadium to Charlton Athletic, Millwall FC, Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur. During the day Jeff was joined by Sir Trevor Brooking, Keith Peacock, Chris Kamara, Francis Benali, Dave Berry, David Seaman, Alastair Campbell, Phil Daniels, Paul Parker and Mark Bright.
That star-studded support spanned across all four days; David Moyes, Irvine Welsh, Malky Mackay, Gordon Smith, Alex Rae, Mark Hateley, Iain Dowie, Colin Murray and Carl Frampton also marching alongside him.
Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Angela Culhane, who has now walked more than 180 miles alongside Stelling across the 2016, 2017 and 2019 March for Men events, said: “We’re so proud that Jeff has conquered another epic March for Men, and helped us to raise such a game-changing sum of money - £1m. His selfless efforts, not just this year, but since 2016, in pushing himself to the absolute limit to help us in our quest to make prostate cancer a disease that men and their families no longer fear, is, well, unbelievable Jeff!
“His challenge has helped shine a light on this hugely important issue. The fight against prostate cancer, a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes, is a purpose worth uniting for, and this fits in perfectly with our ‘Men, we are with you’ mantra; Jeff and our wonderful supporters getting together to do something amazing in the fight against prostate cancer.
“It's been quite some adventure since Jeff first set out from the gates of his club, Hartlepool United, in March 2016, and we thank each and every person that has walked or supported us in that time. Jeff’s incredible efforts have raised the bar and we are so grateful to our supporters for joining him across all four nations. Familiar faces and fresh ones, young and old, we are consistently inspired by our ever-growing army of supporters who help galvanise our drive to change the game for men and their loved ones.
“Thanks to them we are a step closer to funding more ground-breaking research and finding the tools needed for a screening programme, in order to catch more prostate cancers early and save more lives.”
Many people are unaware that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It’s a huge issue that cannot be ignored. One man will die from prostate cancer every 45 minutes in the UK. That’s over 11,500 men a year.
Stelling’s September stroll was part of the Prostate Cancer UK’s third March for Men campaign, another opportunity for the public to raise funds to fight this killer disease.
PokerStars, the flagship poker brand of The Stars Group, and Sky Bet have both supported Prostate Cancer UK for several years. Stelling is a Sky Bet Ambassador and has benefited from the support of the online sports betting operator that has resulted in public fundraising and corporate donations for Prostate Cancer UK. In 2015, PokerStars partnered with the charity for the Lad’s Night In initiative, which invited people to set up fundraising poker home games with friends.