Putting our region's cancer needs first

Fearless Fundraiser Set to Swim with Sharks for Local Cancer Research

Dan Riding, 38, from Atherton in Greater Manchester, will be making a splash in the tanks of Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire to get up-close and cage-free with Europe’s largest collection of sharks as he raises vital funds for local cancer research and education projects.

Dan and his two daughters

Swimming alongside Dan will be 10ft long Tiger and Nurse Sharks, Blacktip Sharks and Bamboo Sharks, amongst other aquatic life such as Southern Stingrays and Moray Eels.

Dan, Head of Financial Protection for Markland Hill Wealth, chose to take the plunge with the Shark Dive after his company elected North West Cancer Research as their Charity of the Year and decided to make his solo challenge as extreme as possible.

He said: “I thought, if I’m going to get involved in some fundraising, why not something as extreme as this? I have snorkelled above a reef before but haven’t encountered anything bigger than a starfish, so I’m sure the sharks will be something else!

“I’m not sure if I’m afraid of sharks, per se, as I haven’t put myself in that position before, so we will see how I fare. I’m sure my two daughters will love seeing me being lowered to my fate with them!”

Dan knows the traumatic effects of cancer all too well and has chosen to take on the thrilling fundraiser to honour friends and family he has sadly lost to cancer over the years. When he was just 18, Dan lost his best friend, also named Dan, to leukaemia after a devastating two-year battle. A few years later Dan’s grandad passed from oesophageal cancer and most recently his family friend, Mary, has been diagnosed with stage four cancer.

Dan said: “My own experiences with cancer go back years. I lost my best friend, Dan, after battling the disease for two years, when we should have been having the time of our lives. The impact his diagnosis had on his health and his family was devastating and losing him at such a young age made me and my friends grow up quickly. 

“A few years later my grandad, the person who came to every one of my rainy weekend morning football matches and had just witnessed his great-granddaughter be born, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. It was a battle that didn’t last long at all really and took him far too soon.

“Now Mary, who is my wife’s life-long friend from university, has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has metastasised. She is a 40-year-old mother to two young children – it’s a position that no family, certainly with such young children, should ever have to go through.”

“My whole career has been trying to ensure that people, families, and businesses have the right financial protection in place so that should someone be diagnosed with a horrific illness like cancer, one of their burdens can be alleviated so that they can focus on recovery or enjoying what time they have left as best they can. After 20 years of working in this industry, I know all too well the impact of cancer, the probability of it occurring, and, ultimately, that cancer does not discriminate.

“This is why I am so keen to support the work of North West Cancer Research – from a position of industry insight, having a wife who works in healthcare, and my own encounters with cancer. I have great hope that the work carried out by the Charity continues to benefit us and our future generations.”

Alastair Richards, CEO of North West Cancer Research, said of Dan’s inspiring story: “It’s so moving to hear Dan’s story in such candour and learn how he has been affected by the loss of family and friends over the years and the fundraising challenge he is taking on in their memory.

“It’s a fearsome fundraiser and Dan’s much-deserved sponsorship will help to pay for vital research to tackle the cause, improve the care, and find the cure for cancer.”

You can support Dan as he takes the plunge into shark-infested waters at: https://northwestcancerresearch.enthuse.com/pf/dan-riding