A young father who defied the doctors and made a “miraculous recovery” after being diagnosed with an inoperable cancer is joining his brother on a marathon trek in aid of a hospice.
Things looked bleak for Ceri Dawson, 29, two years ago when he was given the bombshell news that he had pleomorphic soft tissue sarcoma – a rare type of cancer – just days before the birth of his son.
His younger brother, Ashley, 27, and his colleague, Rob Challenger, 29, who are colleagues at the Village Bakery, in Wrexham, are planning a four-day, 120-mile hike around Anglesey’s Coastal Path, starting on Friday (August 17).
They are raising money for the Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham which is the Village Bakery’s chosen charity this year.
Ceri, or Cez as he is known to family and friends, is aiming to join the duo for one of the legs, either on Saturday or Sunday.
Ashley, a shift manager at the Village Bakery, is an experienced charity walker and in 2017 he took on another epic challenge when he completed the 182-mile hike along Offa’s Dyke to raise money for Cez and Christie’s Hospital, in Manchester, where he was being treated.
Cez, who is aiming to get his career as a teacher back on track, lives in Coedpoeth, near Wrexham, with his wife, Catrin, and their little boy, Cai, who’s nearly two.
Ashley and Rob will be starting the trek in Bangor, and crossing the iconic Menai suspension bridge before doing an anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Anglesey, camping out overnight between the different legs of the walk.
It will be made all the more difficult because both of them will be carrying rucksacks weighing 35kg each.
Ashley’s feelings ahead of the walk are in complete contrast to how he felt two years ago.
He said: “It was pretty grim at the time because we thought Cez’s cancer was terminal and it’s a miracle that he came through it.
“The doctors didn’t really have an explanation for his recovery but he’s doing really well now.
“Cez is such is such a strong individual. His wife is exactly the same, so strong, so to have someone so great supporting him close, and we’ve got a really close, supportive family.
“He’s not going to be able to do all of the walk but he’s hoping to come on either the Saturday or the Sunday.
“This time the walk is aid of Nightingale House. They are the Village Bakery’s chosen charity and they provide a fantastic service for people with life-limiting conditions and their families. From that point of view, it was a no-brainer to raise money for them.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Rob Challenger, who is the Village Bakery’s resident packaging expert.
He said: “I’m pretty active generally because I go for walks with my partner or my daughter.
“I recently took part in a charity football match organised by the Village Bakery in aid of Nightingale House.
“Although I’ve done charity walks in the past, I’ve never done anything on this scale before – so it’s going to be a huge challenge.
“I’ve got some brand new walking boots to I’m going to have to try and wear them in as best I can before we get started.
“The fact that we are doing the walk to raise money for such a good cause is a big motivator.”
The duo’s original target was to raise £600 but they have already had more than £400 donated.
Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “I am very proud that Ash and Rob have taken it upon themselves to undertake this huge challenge, particularly because it is in such of a good cause.
“Nightingale House provides a vital service to families across much of North Wales at a time when they need it most.
“It’s also fantastic to see the wonderful recovery Cez has made. His determination and positive attitude is an inspiration to us all.”
Anybody wishing to make a donation in aid of Nightingale House can do so via: www.gofundme.com/ashrobwalk