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Helen Popple from Stamford is raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of her dad, Mick Blankley

This month might be vying to be the wettest February on record, but come rain or shine Helen Popple is out running every day.

She is taking part in Pancreatic Cancer UK's February running challenge to raise money for a cause close to her heart.

But instead of completing the charity’s ‘Jog 29 miles in February’ – the equivalent of a mile a day this leap year – she is intent on covering the equivalent of four marathons, a total of 105 miles.

Helen Popple is supporting research charity Pancreatic Cancer UK
Helen Popple is supporting research charity Pancreatic Cancer UK

Helen, who is a regular runner with Stamford Striders and takes part in the Rutland Water Parkrun on Saturday mornings, said: “The weather has been appalling so far this month but the challenge has made me get out and do about three miles each day.

“I want to support Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of my dad, Mick Blankley.

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“He was a teacher at Casterton from 1958 to 1993, having started out teaching sport and history and then English. He even taught me, and in class I would call him ‘Dad’.

Mick Blankley, a well-loved dad and school teacher, died from pancreatic cancer
Mick Blankley, a well-loved dad and school teacher, died from pancreatic cancer

“He was one of those teachers who didn’t simply favour those who were good in school but helped everyone to fulfil their potential.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better dad.”

Unfortunately, Mick fell ill when he was 72 and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Over five weeks his health declined and he admitted to Hurst Ward at Stamford Hospital. Mick, a father of three daughters, died three days later, on May 16, 2005.

Now Helen, who lives in Stamford and works as a gardener with her husband, Simon, wants to help improve the survival rates of the disease.

More than half of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer still die within three months. Survival rates have improved for most cancers, yet for pancreatic cancer this is not the case.

“By the time people receive their diagnosis, it is too late,” said Helen, who hopes to raise at least £750 for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Her JustGiving page can be found at http://tinyurl.com/HelenPopple.

The charity supports people with pancreatic cancer, funding nurses and research that could help change the outlook for those diagnosed in future.

Former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and doctors have given him a few months to live. Actor Patrick Swayze died less than two years after he was diagnosed with the disease.

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