Melton grandfather’s death inspires cancer awareness campaign

Ray Walker (right) with wife Vanessa, his three children and two grandchildren EMN-180511-155211001
Ray Walker (right) with wife Vanessa, his three children and two grandchildren EMN-180511-155211001
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The twin sons of a 59-year-old Melton man who died from pancreatic cancer are planning to run a marathon to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

Ray Walker passed away on October 25, just over six weeks after he was first diagnosed with his illness.

Ray Walker running in a competition for the Stilton Striders EMN-180511-155141001

Ray Walker running in a competition for the Stilton Striders EMN-180511-155141001

He had been a very fit man, running regularly with the Stilton Striders and taking part in the Parkrun in Melton Country Park every Saturday morning.

Ray’s death has devastated wife Vanessa, daughter Justine and his twin boys, Seb and Calum, who want to help other families recognise the symptoms earlier so loved ones can be treated more quickly.

To achieve this, the twins plan to run next April’s London Marathon in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK with a fundraising target of up to £10,000.

Seb said: “It was such a shock to lose dad - his diagnosis just came out of the blue.

Ray Walker pictured at a running event with family members EMN-180511-155151001

Ray Walker pictured at a running event with family members EMN-180511-155151001

“He went from being a person who was never ill to being diagnosed with cancer and then six-and-a-half weeks later he was dead.

“Dad didn’t realise he had it until it was too late.”

Ray, who also leaves grandchildren Harlan (3) and Erin (2), got the running bug just five years ago when Seb entered him for the 10km Stilton Stumble at Cropwell Bishop.

“Mum and dad always enjoyed jogging for exercise but after they started running in competitive runs it just snowballed from there,” said Seb.

Seb and Calum Walker, who are running the London Marathon for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of their late father EMN-180511-155201001

Seb and Calum Walker, who are running the London Marathon for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of their late father EMN-180511-155201001

“Running is going to be mum’s saving grace because since she and dad joined the Striders they made so many friends and the club has been very supportive since we lost him.”

Ray was born in Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria, and the family settled in Melton 20 years ago.

He spent his working life in the adhesives industry and latterly was employed as an industrial chemist.

The family had booked a celebration of his 60th birthday at The Cutting Room, in Melton, before he fell ill.

Seb added: “I know everyone says it but dad really was a great dad.

“He was quite a big guy but a bit of a gentle giant too.

“We would like other people to be more aware of pancreatic cancer and of how important recognising symptoms and early diagnosis is.

“Hopefully by doing this marathon we will be able to do this.”

A celebration of Ray’s life will be held at Loughborough Crematorium on Tuesday November 13, at 11.45am, followed by an event for mourners at Sysonby Knoll Hotel.

Family flowers only are requested and those who attend are asked to wear smart colourful clothes.

Go online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/seb-calum-walker1 to sponsor Seb and Calum.