Get inspired By... George and Mark Gallimore

2016 was a big year for 5-year old George Gallimore, his parents Mark and Helen, and his sisters Grace, 8, and Lily, 2: it marked the end of his more than 3-year long treatment for leukaemia.

To celebrate this milestone and his 40th birthday, George’s dad Mark completed seven challenges from April to November for Candlelighters, the charity who have supported them from day one.

When Mark recalls the first few weeks after George was diagnosed, he remembers feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the unknown. But he also remembers talking to other dads on the ward, learning from them and being reassured by them. After a while, Mark and Helen became the parents newly diagnosed families could go to for support.

Speaking of 2016 as a year, Mark said at the time: “Approaching end of treatment actually makes us quite nervous. Helen and I are apprehensive about what’s next. Thankfully, we have a network of other families we’ve met along the way we can talk to, who understand how we feel, and we know Candlelighters will still be there for us and the kids after treatment finishes.”

Throughout their childhood cancer journey, the Gallimore family has been helped by Leeds-based charity Candlelighters. During his numerous stays at Leeds General Infirmary Ward 31, George was able to play with toys donated by the charity, and was looked after by the Candlelighters Play Specialists. A lot of the equipment on the ward and the day clinic are funded by the charity.

Candlelighters also offers free holidays for families on treatment, and George and his family have been to Centre Parks twice to get some much needed quality family time, away from the hospital environment.

Since George was first diagnosed, the Gallimore and their friends and family have raised over £5000.

Mark decided to complete the amazing seven challenges of 2016 to help raise more funds for the charity. In April, 24 hours after an overnight walk from Leeds to Sheffield, he abseiled 40ft at Ripley Castle. In May, he conquered the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. In June, he completed his first ever obstacle mud race, Total Warrior. August and October saw him run through the streets of York. Finally, he walked on fire in Leeds in November.

Mark added: “The challenges are my way of saying thank you to Candlelighters, and help other families, before saying goodbye to my 30s… The mud race will be the biggest challenge, completely out of my comfort zone. I’m doing it with another dad from the ward, Andrew, whose son has just finished treatment.

Each event will be fun and emotional in their own way. I particularly enjoy the runs and walks because you get to talk to a lot of people who are taking part or volunteering – it’s really motivating. I’m now in training, and Grace and George sometimes come with me. They enjoy ‘running like daddy’.

I completed my first marathon in 2014, and it was hard! Fundraising was also challenging. I didn’t really know where to start or how to ask. What I discovered is that your friends and family are great ambassadors. They took my sponsorship forms to work, my mum is in a choir and she took some there. It’s all a community effort, and I’m amazed by people’s generosity.”

Candlelighters relies entirely on donations to continue their work, supporting families affected by childhood cancer throughout the region. They need to raise £1.5m a year to fund their existing work, and have some exciting projects to do even more from 2017.

Thank you so much to Mark and his entire family for their support, as they have helped us continue the support we offer families facing children’s cancer.

Feel inspired by Mark’s challenges? Get in touch with our Fundraising Team on 0113 322 9283 to chat your ideas for fundraising! We’d love to hear them!