Intrepid television presenter Jeff Stelling has been honoured for his ‘unbelievable’ fundraising walk for Prostate Cancer UK at the Just Giving Fundraising Awards on Tuesday 21 November.
The long-standing Sky Sports Soccer Saturday host was named Celebrity Fundraiser of the Year at the event at The Brewery in London after completing his March for Men, an epic 15 marathons in 15 days from Exeter City FC to Newcastle United FC in June.
Stelling, 62, teamed up with Prostate Cancer UK to walk 400 miles from St James Park to St James’ Park from June 2nd to June 16th visiting more than 40 football clubs and raising more than £370,000 in the fight against the most common cancer in men.
Having also strolled from Hartlepool to Wembley the previous year, Stelling’s fundraising total is now a staggering £800,000 and he scooped the accolade ahead of film star Tom Hardy and fellow television personality Denise van Outen.
Hardy led two fundraising drives, one raising almost £30,000 for those affected by the Manchester Arena attack, and a further £56,000 for the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation after the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. van Outen embarked on a 187-mile bike ride in India, raising £30,000 for Brain Tumour Research.
Stelling was joined by around 650 walkers during his unforgettable amble up the country and during a star-studded 15 days strolled alongside Burnley manager Sean Dyche, met World Cup winning England goalkeeper Gordon Banks, Liverpool legends Phil Thompson, Mark Lawrenson, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher and Manchester footballing royalty Denis Law and Mike Summerbee, two men affected by prostate cancer.
There were many other familiar faces plodding alongside the television favourite as he headed north from Devon, including his fellow pundits from Soccer Saturday, Charlie Nicholas, Matt Le Tissier and the man who coined the phrase of ‘Unbelievable Jeff’, the effervescent Chris Kamara. Former rugby league stars Kevin Sinfield, Brian Carney, Barrie McDermott and Phil Clarke also marched alongside Sky reporter Bill Arthur, a long-time friend and colleague of Stelling, and a man affected by prostate cancer.
And, throughout the 15 days, there were also men and families affected by a disease that one in eight men in the UK will develop, including 52-year-old Kevin Webber, a man with terminal prostate cancer. Webber, an AFC Wimbledon season-ticket holder from Epsom walked 12 of the 15 days and when away from the event due to a family emergency, he managed to RUN three marathons.
Jeff said: “I’m proud and honoured to be named as Celebrity Fundraiser of the Year by Just Giving, and accept this award on behalf of every single person that supported me along the way, and continue to do so to this day.
“An award like this reinforces why we took on a second epic challenge, and how hugely important it is to raise money to make a difference to the lives of men and their loved ones.
“Since deciding to take on these challenges, I’ve learned so much about prostate cancer, and the devastating effects it has. I’ve met some incredible people along the way and been inspired beyond belief at their stories and positivity while dealing with something so heart-breaking. I take my hat off to them all.
“The awareness raised all the way from Exeter to Newcastle, and from Hartlepool to Wembley last year will also make a massive difference. This wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support of the public, of the clubs and football fans and the passion of the charity to drive this forward. This award is for them all.”
Joining Stelling at the event was David Stott and his uncle Anthony Hall, the duo from Darlington having raised more than £10,000 between them by marching the final two days. David’s dad was diagnosed with the disease last year.
A spokesperson for JustGiving said: “We are so pleased that we’ve been able to celebrate Jeff’s excellent commitment by naming him our Celebrity Fundraiser of the Year at the JustGiving Awards 2017. His efforts to raise not just funds, but awareness around prostate cancer has been extraordinary.”
The mega event was part of Prostate Cancer UK’s wider walking programme, March for Men, and on the Saturday and Sunday that followed, over 1,600 walkers took to the parks of London, Leeds and Glasgow to raise awareness of a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes.
And in 2018 the charity’s March for Men walking programme is bigger than ever with supporters encouraged to sign up for even more local walks across the country, and also encouraged to hold their own marches.
Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Angela Culhane, who completed the final leg and more than 75 miles across three days of this year’s March for Men, said: "Jeff is a worthy winner of this award after an incredible 15-day adventure earlier this year continuing his amazing walking legacy.
“We thank and congratulate him once again, not just on the award but also on how his epic efforts continue to wake men up to the need to take action against the most common cancer in men. Thanks to the money raised we can fund more ground-breaking research, and it will also help us provide dedicated support and information to men and their families and make prostate cancer a disease the next generation of men need not fear.
“One man dies every 45 minutes from prostate cancer. We want to turn that around and the wonderful efforts of Jeff and everyone who has walked alongside him or supported our walking events this year and last, are helping us do just that. To steal a line from someone else, you really are ‘unbelievable Jeff’.”
The substantial sums raised by fundraising such as Jeff’s March for Men will help ‘shift the science’ and crack the three core issues of diagnosis, treatment and prevention, which have been left unsolved for too long. It will also help provide support and information to those affected by the disease.
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 11,000 men a year. Based on current trends, if we ignore prostate cancer and do nothing, this number will rise to over 14,500 men a year by 2026.
To show your support and get a Prostate Cancer UK ‘Man of Men’ pin badge to wear with pride, text BADGE to 70004 to donate £5* and help stop prostate cancer being a killer. For information about the badge and the charity’s work in football visit prostatecanceruk.org/whostheman.
* Text costs £5 plus network charge. Prostate Cancer UK receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 0800 082 1616. Charity No 1005541.