First man joins Leeds hospice Starlight hike

STEPPING OUT: Lewis Ackroyd with Danielle Parker, left, and Donna Moss, who have signed up to take part in the Starlight Hike.

STEPPING OUT: Lewis Ackroyd with Danielle Parker, left, and Donna Moss, who have signed up to take part in the Starlight Hike.

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When Lewis Ackroyd registered for the Wheatfields Hospice Starlight Hike he never dreamt he would be the first man nationwide to sign up for the challenge.

Lewis became the first male in the UK to join the 10km walks and will take part in the Leeds event with his workmates Danielle Parker and Donna Moss on Saturday, September 15.

The 30-year-old decided to take on the hike through the historic estate of Temple Newsam – which is being backed by the YEP – after his mum Diane Jenkins died at Wheatfields Hospice in 2000.

Lewis, who grew up in Armley and now lives in Bradford, was just 19 when Diane lost her battle with bowel cancer aged 51.

The dad-of-one said: “I’d always intended to do something for Wheatfields to thank them for the care they gave my mum but it’s something I never got round to.

“When Danielle sent round an email to say she was looking for people to join the Starlight Hike, I thought it was the perfect opportunity. I’m not a big walker and if I can drive somewhere, I will.

“But I’m going to start walking a bit more now – you wouldn’t call it a challenge and ask people to sponsor you if it was easy.”

Staff at Wheatfields are hoping more than 1,000 men, women and children will join the Starlight Hike, raising tens of thousands for the hospice in Headingley.

This year, it will cost over £4m to run Wheatfields – and £2.1m needs to be generated through donations and fundraising events.

Lewis, who works in IT for Thomas Cook, added: “It’s pretty cool to be the first man to sign up.

“There are other fundraising events that are women only, which I think is wrong.

“Men and women alike are impacted one way or another and should be able to raise money and awareness regardless of gender.”

Wheatfields fundraiser Joseph Clark-Bland added: “As a charity providing expert care for all kinds of people, not just women, it seemed only right to allow men to take part in the Starlight Hike.

“Having Lewis sign up for the event is fantastic – it shows there are men out there who are ready to go. But we need more men – and women – to show their support.”

For more information or to sign up for the Starlight Hike, visit: www.starlighthike.org or call 0113 278 7249.

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