Stevenage couple raise vital funds for cancer research in debut boxing match
PUBLISHED: 08:25 01 December 2019
A brave Stevenage couple stepped into a boxing ring for the first time on Saturday to help raise funds for the fight against cancer.
Mum-of-three Rachel Hensley and her boyfriend Simon Heron both had very personal reasons for taking part in the Ultra White Collar Boxing event at Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre.
Rachel, 40, lost her dad to cancer in July this year and decided to take on this challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK and keep herself busy.
Simon Heron, 43, who himself fought testicular cancer as a young man, decided to join her.
Participants in the event are given eight weeks of free professional boxing training before a showcase event in front of hundreds of spectators.
Rachel cared for her dad, Nigel, for four years after he was diagnosed with larynx cancer in 2015. He had to have his voice box removed and Rachel says his decline was horrendous. He was only 63 when he died on July 23.
Simon, who is a groundworker, was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 27. His daughter, Danielle, who is now 17, was only one at the time.
He has always wanted to raise money to thank the people who helped him recover, but said "life got in the way".
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Simon said: "It was always in my mind after all the treatment because I got treated so well. All the people I dealt with when I had cancer were incredible.
"Rachel needed something to focus on after losing her dad and I immediately said I would do [the boxing event] with her.
"After the first training session you realise how fit you need to be. It gets real straight away."
Rachel and Simon have collectively raised £2,357 for Cancer Research UK through online fundraising.
Speaking about the training, Rachel said: "It was like a rollercoaster, but I was looking forward to getting in the ring."
Jon Leonard, who runs Ultra Events, said: "What a fantastic effort by both Simon and Rachel.
"I'm glad Rachel has found it a positive experience following the very sad death of her dad and it's great that Simon supported her by joining in too.
"I think it's a first for us - a couple both taking part in the same event." Simon and Rachel did not, however, face each other in the ring.