Leeds man to pull field gun 300 miles across UK to honour a promise to brother who died of cancer

David Bathgate and the one tonne field gun.
David Bathgate and the one tonne field gun.
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A Leeds man is honouring a promise he made to his brother who died of cancer, by pulling a one tonne field gun, 330 miles across the UK.

Submariner David Bathgate from Farnley in west Leeds set up ‘Military Vs Cancer’ after the sudden loss of his brother John from bowel cancer in 2017.

David Bathgate (right) and his brother John (left).

David Bathgate (right) and his brother John (left).

John was one of five of David’s family members who were affected by cancer during an 18-month period.

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David said: “John’s diagnosis came as a shock to us all, it was the speed of the disease that shocked us. It was unexpected. Just a few short weeks after diagnosis, we were sat chatting in my garden, within five hours he was on life support that he would never recover from. He was suffering from bowel cancer and his colon ruptured resulting in an infection which then led to sepsis. Four days later his life support was switched off. He passed away 19 June 2017 aged just 53. Our family will never be the same again."

He added: "I made a promise to my brother that I would do all I could to make sure fewer people would have to go through the pain my family have endured from this terrible disease. From this promise, Military vs Cancer was born - with the aim of harnessing the fighting power of the military to raise over £100,000 to change the future, so that many more will survive their battle with cancer.”

As part of David’s efforts to meet his fundraising target, the Field Gun Pull will start today ( September 9).

The gun, which weighs the equivalent of a small family car, will be pulled by 15 personnel at a time.

It will travel 330 miles by hand from RAF Scampton in Lincoln all the way to HMNB Clyde in Scotland, arriving there on Friday 27 September. Military personnel from many locations and units will join together to fight against cancer and raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan.

Last year, David raised £28,000 by raffling off a submariner’s watch and sword. The money was split equally between Cancer Research UK and Macmillan.

Nicki Embleton, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Yorkshire, said: “We’re extremely grateful to David for his fundraising efforts and dedication to our cause. The Field Gun Pull is a huge challenge to undertake and David has worked tirelessly organising the event, in memory of his brother.

“Every hour, three people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire. But thanks to research, more people are surviving the disease than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. Together we will beat cancer.”

The charity’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend nearly £5 million last year in Yorkshire on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research - helping more men, women and children survive cancer.

To sponsor David, please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/MilitaryVsCancer