Glemsford man who died from cancer honoured with 38-mile endurance fundraiser
The friend of a Glemsford man, who lost his battle with cancer last month, took on a 38-mile endurance challenge in his memory.
Gary Sparkes, 56, of Egremont Street, died after developing bowel cancer in April.
His colleague and friend Mark White took part in the gruelling race from Peterborough to Ely Rugby Club.
The challenge took on new meaning following Mr Sparkes’ death, which prompted Mr White to dedicate the challenge to his friend.
“We were best friends and I had to do something for him,” said the 46-year-old. “I couldn’t let his memory fade away.”
Mr White was joined by two of his running club friends, who battled freezing winds along the route.
He said it was both physically and mentally exhausting.
“We started to switch off but remembered why we were doing it,” said Mr White.
“We couldn’t let Gary down, so we had to battle on.”
Mr White had taken part in marathons before, but the 38-mile challenge was the furthest he had excelled himself.
“It was full-on all the time,” he said.
A Just Giving page has been set up for West Suffolk Hospital’s My Wish charity to raise funds for the Macmillan Information and Support Centre where Mr Sparkes received his treatment.
Mr Sparkes worked at International Flavors and Fragrances factory in Haverhill as a warehouse operative for 10 years. He had known Mr White for 17 years.
“We got on really well,” said Mr White.
The pair enjoyed going on motor bike rides at the weekend around the villages and travelled further afield on trips abroad, including France and Germany.
Mr Sparkes’ wife, Fiona, said she felt humbled that such an ambitious challenge had been dedicated to her husband.
“I was surprised and delighted,” she said.
“Gary was someone who didn’t like a fuss and I can imagine him being shocked but delighted at the same time.”
Mr Sparkes enjoyed the outdoors on his mountain bike and took part in various mud, sweat and gears events across East Anglia.
“He took part in the trail before he was ill,” said Mrs Sparkes, who praised West Suffolk Hospital for its standard of care.
“Gary was treated really well and he wanted to thank them for the care he received,” she added.
To make a donation go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/m-white6.