Today is a special day for our favourite sports presenter of all time. We'd like to wish him a very happy birthday and we've got him a very special present: a 262-mile march for Prostate Cancer UK! We hope you good people out there will also get him a present by sponsoring him. With only one Soccer Saturday left before Jeff starts his Men United March, we catch up with him for his last weekly blog, including messages of support from Stephen Fry and Jamie Redknapp.
Hello and welcome to my final blog!
I cannot believe in just three days I will have started walking my first of ten marathons in ten days for Prostate Cancer UK. Where has the time gone?
But I am ready to do this and I can’t wait to see what’s in store. I’m sure I'll meet a variety of people along the way, from the wacky to the athletic to the truly inspirational, and I can’t wait.
Never did I imagine when I first had the idea for the march that three days before we would have already raised £137,000! I say this every week, but thank you to everyone who has raised money or donated.
One of the reasons I decided to take on this challenge is that I have known a number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Some have spoken openly about it in the media and some who prefer to keep it private. But the underlying fact is that 1 in 8 men are diagnosed with this awful disease so the likelihood is we will all know someone diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The key is for men to be aware of their own health and speak to their doctor. This is a treatable disease when diagnosed early enough – but not always. My Sky colleague and friend, Bill Arthur, is one of the many men I know with a prostate cancer story and is part of my inspiration to walk to Wembley and complete the challenge.
He and I go way back to my reporting days in the North East. Bill was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011. He’d had no symptoms and was simply having a health check up as part of the process of moving house.
Once diagnosed, he underwent hormone therapy and got the all clear. But it didn't end there. This horrible disease came back in 2015 and Bill needed chemotherapy this time. But to add to Bill’s ordeal, he suffered a heart attack so had to change back to hormone therapy, which is still ongoing.
Bill is an inspiration and will be walking with me on Day 2. I’m looking forward to seeing him and having a great catch-up about the good old days! We should have enough time as York City to Leeds United is the longest day of the march. Blimey!
I got to try out my walking kit earlier this week. And a special thanks to the legend that is Liam Gallagher for donating one of his iconic ‘Pretty Green’ parka jackets and sunglasses! Liam – if you need a mature, sophisticated model, look no further!
I could not believe what I was hearing when I saw Stephen Fry’s video message for me today. You are too kind, sir. It is you that is our greatest living Englishman. You're a true gent – thank you for your kind words!
This week The People and the Non-League Paper featured articles about the march. Thanks for your support and raising awareness of why I am doing this huge challenge. We also caught up with Jamie Redknapp:
And got the boys in the studio to do their homework by reading Prostate Cancer UK’s very own newspaper, The Male.
And my Sky Sports colleague and former Northern Ireland international, Iain Dowie, will be joining me on Day 2, which looks set to be filled with ex-pro footballers, rugby league stars and Team GB Olympians! I hope they’ll all be able to keep up with my pace…
Now’s a good time to announce all the big names joining me and my fellow walkers on the march. Here goes:
Day 1: (Hartlepool United via Middlesbrough to Marske United) Ray Wilkins, Craig Hignett, Alastair Campbell.
Day 2: (York City to Leeds United) Chris Kamara, Charlie Nicholas, Iain Dowie, Bill Arthur, Brian Carney, Phil Clarke, Barrie McDermott, Sir Kevin Sinfield (final 2 miles), Dale Tempest, Bryn Law.
Day 3: (Doncaster Rovers to Scunthorpe United) Darren Ferguson will be saying hello at the Keepmoat stadium.
Day 4: (Rotherham United via Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday to Chesterfield) Dennis "The Menace" Priestley and Nigel Adkins will be joining at various points.
Day 5: (Derby County via Burton Albion, Nottm Forest to Notts County) Archie Gemmill, Paul Merson, Roger Davies (first and last mile), Para-olympians Rob Oliver and Jack Whelbourne, plus Nigel Clough at the Pirelli stadium and John McGovern at the City Ground.
Day 6: (Wolverhampton Wanderers via Walsall, WBA, Aston Villa to Birmingham) Matt Murray, Graham Turner, Para-olympian Ben Rowlings.
Day 7: (Coventry City to Leicester City) Willie Thorne (for the last 100 metres!).
Day 8: (Northampton Town to MK Dons) Derek Redmond and Clarence the Dragon.
Day 9: (Luton Town via St Albans City to Watford) Paul Merson, Max Rushden, Bianca Westwood, Tony Cottee, Malky McKay, Peter Taylor, Kingsley Black, Scott Oates, Derek Payne, Luther Blissett.
Day 10: (AFC Wimbledons via Brentford, Fulham, Chelsea, QPR to Wembley) Matt Le Tissier, Chris Powell, Dean Smith, Trevor Sinclair, Gareth Ainsworth, Les Ferdinand and Andy Sinton are joining en route, too.
You can keep up to date with how my challenge is going and what shenanigans myself, Russ Green, Kammy & co will be getting up to by following Prostate Cancer UK’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
You can sponsor me and my fellow walkers, so please dig deep and donate what you can. The money raised really will save lives and revolutionise the way this disease is diagnosed and treated.Sponsor me
All that’s left to say is thank you all for your support and I hope to see many of you along the way!
Wish me luck!
Want to read more of Jeff? Check out his blog in the Huffington Post today.