Durham University’s Stuart Thompson fundraising thousands for Macmillan cancer


The University’s Deputy Director of Advancement Services, who lost both his grandparents to cancer, has set himself a gruelling challenge to raise money for charity in their memory.

Stuart Thompson was profoundly affected by his loss, with Covid-19 restrictions also affecting his family’s long distance support from Australia.

He has already completed three of the five ultra-challenges and has now decided to double his donation target for Macmillan to £10,000 after smashing his original total with two challenges still to complete.

In June, Thompson completed the Northumbrian Iron Man Ultra Triathlon, which involved swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles. He finished tenth overall, out of 200 who took part, and second in his male senior category.

“What I’m putting myself through is nothing in comparison to what so many people who are affected by or living with cancer are going through right now,” he said.

This triathlon success follows two previous challenges. The first was scaling the famous Three Peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours. He also completed the Coast to Coast cycle challenge over two days in April.

“What I’m putting myself through is nothing in comparison to what so many people who are affected by or living with cancer are going through right now,”

stuart thompson

Thompson, 38, is the eldest of four. Both of his parents, originally from Durham, now live in Australia, and he works as a deputy director at Durham University.

Thompson’s role is described on the University’s ‘Meet the Team’ page as follows: “His portfolio comprises data and information management, data governance and compliance, alumni and stakeholder systems, reporting and analytics, training and user support, prospect research, gift processing, and stewardship.

“Stuart has developed many new systems and processes, to improve and expand the Development and Alumni Relations functions at Durham including the development of an Alumni Engagement Pyramid.”

Thompson said: “We lost my grandparents, Valerie and Fred, three years ago quite suddenly. She went into hospital for something unrelated and discovered she had colon cancer which then quickly spread to her liver and we lost her within a few short months at 82 years old.

“This understandably had a devastating effect on my grandad, Fred. They had been married for 60 years. He then had the misfortune to slip and break his hip days before he was supposed to fly to Australia and whilst he was in hospital, they discovered he had advanced bowel cancer and he too died shortly after.

At the time of writing, Thompson has raised £5,666

“Macmillan nurses, palliative teams and healthcare assistants really helped support in this difficult period with pain relief, advice and additional care in the home and the hospital.

“It meant Covid-19 restrictions and cancer hit my family hard, my mam was able to fly back for my grandma and then attend her funeral but because of the restrictions couldn’t get back to help my grandad or be at his funeral.”

In 2021 Thompson realised after watching the Tokyo Olympic Games that he wanted to do something to honour his grandparents. This turned out to be raising money for Macmillan who had been a support during his grandparents’ cancer journeys and to be in solidarity with all those affected by and living cancer.

His next challenge is the hundred holes of golf on the 26th July before a 980-mile Ride Across Britain in September.

At the time of writing, Thompson has raised £5,666. To donate to his fundraiser visit: Stuart Thompson is fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support (justgiving.com)

Image: Durham University

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