Putting our region's cancer needs first

The Jones' Cover 500k

Retired couple, Marilyn and Doug Jones have walked over 500k during January in aid of local, life-saving research. In her own words Marilyn talks about their challenge.

Doug and Marilyn Jones

“Let’s do it!” I rushed into our conservatory disturbing my husband’s latest lockdown hobby of jigsaw making.

“Do what?” my husband asked nervously. I excitedly handed him my phone with our local celebrity friend’s latest Facebook post. We live in Rhydymwyn, Flintshire which is a village famous for its disused mustard gas production plant now a nature reserve. Rhydymwyn is also the home of Sean Conway, extreme adventurer and record holder and he was challenging everyone to run, walk, cycle or by any other means other than drive 1k on the 1st January, 2k on the 2nd, 3k on the 3rd and so on.

We are both retired (I am late 60s and my husband a few years younger) so have plenty of time on our hands.

“Are you sure about this?” My husband had legitimate concerns about this sort of challenge. I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever and can’t find my way back from the toilet block to our camper van when on holiday; have a propensity for accidents and have sight and hearing problems. Accompanying me on annual fundraising walks to support our village church are essential if he ever wants to see me again.

My record for fundraising hasn’t been without challenges and I could see in my husband’s face his anguish in visualising the final week of January in having to walk 20k plus each day to reach the final target of 31k. From memory my charitable achievements have included the following:


  • Crawling on all fours with a torch to pick up every single poppy on a dark November evening following a gust of wind which caused them all to cover a very angry lady’s garden.
  • Covering myself in hundreds of baby stick insects during the cleaning process of the terrarium at Colwyn Bay Zoo.
  • Locking myself in a charity shop.
  • Falling off the stage playing the part of Blind Pugh inTreasure Island – yes, I see the irony!
  • Redecorating the kitchen in homemade pea soup whilst attempting to help out our very elderly neighbour.

There are bound to be other examples, but you get the gist and can well understand my husband’s skepticism. He did, however, valiantly agree to join me. 

During lockdown we have explored nearly all the public footpaths in creation around where we live and of course we were unable to drive anywhere without breaking the rules. We are exceptionally lucky to live in such a beautiful part of Wales with easy access from our front doorstep to stunning countryside. Our walks included the Clwydian range via Moel y Crio, Gwernaffield, Mold, Nercwys and other surrounding villages, our options were endless and we never tire of the scenery.

January wasn’t without its inclement weather but in the early days it was kind to us and we inevitably completed far more than the required distance. Unfortunately towards and during the final week of January snow and ice made an unwelcome appearance. Of course snow makes everywhere look beautiful but we live on a private road with quite a slope and when it snows it’s hard work. We are fortunate enough to own a treadmill so on a few days we had to take it in turns to clock up the kilometres in the garage as well as the task of clearing snow.

During the final week we had to start at 8am and finally finished the challenge at 6pm and even 8pm on one unfortunate day. The previous day had seen quite a few inches of snow and overnight it had frozen hard. Looking through our front door the blanket of pure white snow was inviting us to make careful virgin footsteps to begin our daily challenge. We didn’t get far before we were both literally in mid air.

My husband fell twice and struggled to get up off all fours and I had landed very heavily onto my back, hitting my head. My neighbour heard my shouts and fell twice trying to come to my aid sliding on his knees in the process. Thinking back it must have looked extremely comical but with a couple of hours off, a bump on my head, bruised eyes and a bruised wrist we set off again and successfully completed that day.

Initially we hadn’t thought of taking up the challenge for charity but a friend suggested that we would find a lot of support if we did. We chose North West Cancer Research as we have personal experience of the scars the talons of this vicious, indeterminate creature we call cancer can cause. It can creep up on you over years like a silent stalker ready to pounce when you least expect it or it can destroy you in under six weeks as it did one of our close friends. Choosing the Charity wasn’t difficult for us and we were absolutely astounded and thrilled at the generosity of the friends and family we informed about our intentions to donate. We didn’t ask for sponsors or set up any fundraising page but everyone rallied and the funds came pouring in. We raised £1,365.60 and are hugely grateful to all who supported us in our very small effort to aid the fight to disarm this disease.


A huge thank you to Marilyn and Doug, for helping to support local, life-saving research.