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Calendar Girls inspire fundraising challenge

On Linton footbridge in the Yorkshire Dales NP - Tom Stockwell, Paul Carless, Beryl Bamford, Angela Baker, Tricia Stewart, Ros Fawcett, Christine Clancy and Lynda Logan
On Linton footbridge in the Yorkshire Dales NP - Tom Stockwell, Paul Carless, Beryl Bamford, Angela Baker, Tricia Stewart, Ros Fawcett, Christine Clancy and Lynda Logan

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Bainbridge, 25 June, 2018

A man living with blood cancer is to cycle from Amsterdam to Grassington – after being inspired by the ‘Calendar Girls’.

Paul Carless, who is 50 and from Reading, was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia in 2014.  He was soon to meet the Calendar Girls, who encouraged him to get involved with the charity, Bloodwise.  Since then he has undertaken a series of fundraising challenges.

He and friend Tom Stockwell will set off from Amsterdam on the 10th of July and cycle 334 miles over five days to reach the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre in Grassington on the 14th of July.  There’ll be a short ceremony at the Centre, before tea and cake at Church House in Grassington.

The finish line was suggested by the original Calendar Girl, Angela Baker; her late husband, John Baker, was Assistant National Park Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.   His death in July 1998 from blood cancer led to the famously artful Women’s Institute calendar.  Twenty years of the Calendar Girls will be celebrated throughout the summer at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

Paul Carless said: “One of the lyrics from the opening song of the Calendar Girls’ West End musical is ‘from Amsterdam to Yorkshire...’. That inspired this year's challenge.

“I try to raise funds for Bloodwise to support its research into finding cures for all blood cancers, and to prove that it’s possible to live as near to a normal life as possible with cancer. Part of this challenge is to salute the Calendar Girls for inspiring me; it is also a mark of thanks for everything they have done for blood cancer patients like me.”

Angela Baker said: “The Calendar Girls met Paul just after he had been diagnosed with his blood cancer.  He has been very dedicated in raising much needed funds for Bloodwise. He is an ambassador for Bloodwise and is determined to give back to the charity, whose research has helped him overcome his illness.  We wish Paul and Tom well in this latest fund raising venture. We will be there to welcome their safe return when they arrive at the Yorkshire Dales National Park offices in Grassington with a cup of tea and a piece of Victoria sponge cake in true WI fashion.”

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chairman, Carl Lis, added: “Angela Baker and the Calendar Girls are a fundraising phenomenon.  It is amazing that twenty years after the sad death of John Baker, they are still inspiring people to raise funds to help beat blood cancer.  Thank you to Paul Carless and Tom Stockwell for undertaking this challenge and for ending it so appropriately at the National Park offices where John used to work.  I wish them a good and safe ride and would urge people to donate to what is a truly good cause.”

The full story of ‘Amsterdam to Yorkshire – Cycling to Beat Blood cancer’, including information on how to donate, is here.

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