Preston sisters ready to get their hands dirty in fight against cancer

Anna and Catherine Gregson

Anna and Catherine Gregson

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Two Lancashire schoolgirls who lost their dad to cancer are fighting back against the disease by launching a new event from Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, as LAURA WILD reports

Preston twin sisters Catherine and Anna Gregson, both 16, from Fulwood, will take on Race for Life Pretty Muddy at Moor Park on Saturday July 18 – 10 years on from their Dad’s death.

The sisters are showing their fighting spirit by encouraging ladies to take on cancer by entering Pretty Muddy, a women-only, non-competitive 5k obstacle course

Catherine and Anna were just six years old when they lost their dad John to lung cancer in February 2005.

John was only 41 years old. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma when he was 39 - and he and his wife Wendy were told that he would have just 18 months to live.

At the time, John was said to be one of the youngest people in the country to have this type of cancer, which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

By the time the cancer was detected, it was incurable.

John did receive chemotherapy treatment in the hope that it would give him extra time with his family and he and Wendy were able to take the girls to Majorca shortly before he died.

The twins, now aged 16, who are in Year 11 at Our Lady’s Catholic High School, want women across Preston to sign up for Pretty Muddy to help bring forward the day when cancer all cancer can be cured.

Catherine, who took part in the 5K Race for Life event last year and wants to be a teacher when she’s older, says: “Taking part in Race for Life Pretty Muddy is our way of fighting back against cancer for taking our Dad.

“Last year at the Race for Life event there was such an amazing atmosphere.

“Everyone was connected by cancer and we were all running for the same reason.

“I thought of my Dad the whole way round when I was doing it, I just kept thinking that I’m doing it for him and I knew I was making him proud.

“I didn’t really do much training apart from the odd jog here and there.

“It doesn’t really matter where you’re at fitness wise because you just have such a good time on the day it’s all worth it! It’s such a good cause and such an amazing event.”

Anna, who is embarking on her first Race for Life event, adds: “We’re hoping to get as many of our friends involved as we can. There’s nothing wrong with getting a bit muddy for a good cause!

“We’re determined to make a difference and that’s why we’re urging women and girls in Lancashire to take on Race for Life Pretty Muddy, raise money and help beat cancer sooner.

“We know Dad would want us to keep on trying to fund-raise and help to raise awareness of the need for more research so that one day we can beat this disease.

“By taking part in events like this, we know we’d be making him proud.”

Alison Barbuti, Cancer Research UK’s North West spokeswoman, says: “We’re so grateful to Catherine and Anna for their support and we hope that local women will be inspired by their courage and sign up for their Pretty Muddy event today.

“Pretty Muddy promises all the fun and camaraderie of our much loved 5k and 10k events – just with an extra serving of mud and obstacles. Race for Life events are not competitive.

“They are not about being fit or fast. Women can complete the Pretty Muddy course at their own pace, climbing, jumping, walking and laughing their way around.

“With fire in their bellies and trainers at the ready, we know that North West ladies are up for the challenge.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life family of events also includes the familiar 5k and 10k events on Sunday 24 May.

l To enter Race for Life today go to raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.

l If you are taking part in the Race for Life events in Preston and want to share your story contact Laura Wild on laura.wild@lep.co.uk