There were blisters, cheers and even a nap in the sun – but a Cambridgeshire Police officer who took part in a heartfelt charity challenge in memory of his daughter has raised almost 10 times his fundraising target of £500.
In 2015 PC Graham Floyd sadly lost his daughter Natasha who, for eight years, battled a debilitating brain tumour.
Graham, based at Thorpe Wood Police Station, aims to raise awareness of brain tumours after Natasha passed away at the age of 24. She was first diagnosed when she was 16.
Graham said: “On 1 December 2015 Natasha died in my arms from a brain tumour. The tumour took a happy, achieving 16-year-old girl and in the space of 48 hours made her totally blind and terminally ill.
“Before this, Natasha was misdiagnosed for eight months which caused her to lose her sight completely.
“Although an early diagnosis would not have changed the terminal outcome, it would have allowed her to live her remaining years as any other young woman.”
At the end of this month Graham was due to take part in a 62-mile charity walk across the Atlas Mountains and into the Sahara to raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity.
However, Graham’s shoulder was recently injured while making an arrest on duty and as a result he is currently unable to travel abroad. Undeterred, Graham instead took on a similar challenge in the UK.
Graham walked 74 miles in four days between four different police stations in a challenge he called the Great Fenland Police Plod.
He set out with a target of £500 – but by lunchtime today, Wednesday February 27, Graham had raised £4,746 – almost ten times his initial fundraising goal.
Graham started off his trek at Peterborough Police Station last Saturday February 23 and hiked to March Police Station.
On Sunday he continued onto Ely Police Station and on this day, his journey included a mile long trek through a thigh deep flood and then a swim across the New Bedford River opposite Straight Drove in Coveney.
On Monday Graham walked from Ely to Parkside Police Station in Cambridge.
His charity challenge finished at force HQ in Huntingdon yesterday, Tuesday February 26 – the day of his 53rd birthday – where he was met by his wife and response shift officers, balloons and a birthday cake.
Graham said: “Firstly, yes it hurt, yes I have got blisters and yes my ankles are swollen.
“They will all sort themselves out in the next week or so – but those affected by brain tumours, not just people who actually have them but families and friends too, don't have that quick fix to look forward to.
“The Brain Tumour Charity wants to halve the harm and double the survival rate from these tumours.
“All of the fantastic people who have donated have made these two goals come closer. Great strides in research have been made recently and those who donated can all say they have been a part of it.
“Brain tumours are the biggest single killers of children and adults under 40. For the type of tumour Natasha had there is no cure, and no treatment beyond making the inevitable more comfortable.
“A cure can't wait and you are all fabulous. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has donated. Your kindness means the world and I am over the moon.”
Graham added that before she passed away Natasha's last wish was for her whole brain to be donated for research, and it was.
So far Natasha’s brain has allowed researchers to make significant discoveries about the type of brain tumour she had, and its characteristics.
The Brain Tumour Charity funds research into brain tumours globally. The charity is committed to saving and improving lives, with the aim of helping every single person affected by a brain tumour.
Graham is also supporting HeadSmart, an awareness campaign funded and promoted by the charity.
The campaign works to improve diagnosis times by informing and empowering parents and professionals to spot the early signs and symptoms of brain tumours.
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “Graham had to contend with flood waters, unexpected river currents and some very large blisters, but there was never any doubt in our minds that he’d make it to the end of his Fenland plod.
“We’re so grateful to him and to all those who’ve supported him on his journey.
“Every penny he’s raised will help as we work towards our key goals of doubling brain tumour survival and halving the harm caused by the disease.
“I know that Graham’s daughter Natasha would be enormously proud of everything her dad is doing in her memory, just as we were so proud to have Natasha as a Young Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity.”
Anyone still wishing to donate to Graham’s police plod challenge should visit his JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/graham-floyd3
For more information about the Brain Tumour Charity, visit their website at: https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/