Cancer Research UK cancels all North East's Race for Life events due to virus threat

A cancer charity has shelved 400 races to ‘protect the public’s health’ under the pandemic.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 9:19 am
Race for Life at Herrington Country Park last year.
Race for Life at Herrington Country Park last year.

Officials at Cancer Research UK had hoped to stage its popular Race for Life events later this year.

But every one of them has been withdrawn and the charity revealed its was expecting to see its fundraising income decline by up to 25 per cent in the next financial year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An official statement said: “The charity has taken the difficult decision to withdraw all 400 Race for Life events across the UK this year to protect the country’s health as restrictions on mass gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue.”

The 2019 Hartlepool Race for Life.

This includes the Race for Life at Herrington Country Park, Sunderland which was due to take place on Sunday, May 31, and the Race for Life 5K and 10K at Hartlepool Promenade, which can no longer take place on Sunday, October 4, having already been rescheduled from Sunday, June 28.

The statement added: “Participants who had already signed up will be contacted directly by the charity.”

Other events which will be affected in the North East include the Chester-le-Street Pretty Muddy events on September 5, Darlington 5k and the Middlesbrough 5k and 10k on September 20, Durham 5k on September 27, and the Gateshead 5k on September 27.

On October 4, a series of events was planned across the North East including the Newcastle 5k and 10k, the Newcastle Pretty Muddy Kids and the Newcastle Pretty Muddy 5k as well as the Hartlepool 5k and 10k.

Every Race for Life has been cancelled for 2020.

But an official release from Cancer Research said: “The charity has taken the difficult decision to withdraw all 400 Race for Life events across the UK this year to protect the country’s health as restrictions on mass gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue.

“Cancer Research UK expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 25 per cent in the next financial year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson in the North East, said: “We remain tirelessly committed to making progress for people affected by cancer but now more than ever, support from the public will be vital. We simply will not be able to continue funding our life-saving work without it.

“Since it began in 1994, Race for Life has raised over £890 million for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has taken part and hope their support will continue.

“We know Race for Life is such a treasured part of the UK’s events calendar and it is with a heavy heart that for the first time in 27 years we have to announce that it won’t be taking place. The safety of our supporters, volunteers, suppliers and staff is however essential.

“We hope the Race for Life event series will be back bigger and stronger than ever in 2021. In the meantime, we’d love to invite as many people as possible to join us by taking part in Race for Life at Home in these challenging times.”

Undeterred, women and men across the region are already vowing to carry on and complete a Race for Life at Home challenge, in their garden or their nearest green space.

People can visit raceforlife.org and sign up free for ideas on how they can create their own special challenge.

Lisa added: “Cancer hasn’t stopped and people affected by cancer need our support more than ever.

“From a run or 5K walk around the garden or local park to limbo in the living room, there is no wrong way to Race for Life at Home.”

Around 16.500 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the North East of England.

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies entirely on the public’s generous support. The charity was able to spend over £5 million last year in the North East on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

For more information, visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.

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