Schoolboy leads charge against cancer at Pretty Muddy Edinburgh

Leo Barker has been chosen as the voice of Cancer Research UK Race for Life Pretty Muddy Kids events this year.

West Lothian schoolboy Leo Barker leads charge against cancer at Pretty Muddy Edinburgh Lesley Martin/ Pretty Muddy Kids
Leo at Pretty Muddy Kids.

A West Lothian schoolboy who had a life-saving liver transplant during the Covid-19 pandemic led the charge against cancer at Pretty Muddy Edinburgh.

Leo Barker, from Livingston, waved to the crowd from the stage at The Meadows on Sunday ahead of his inspirational story being played on loud speakers.

The 11-year-old, who is in remission from cancer, has been chosen as the voice of Cancer Research UK Race for Life Pretty Muddy Kids events this year.

His story will be played at hundreds of the Pretty Muddy events across the UK.

It was a proud moment for Leo’s mum Laura Barker, 41, dad Stephen Barker, 44, and 14-year-old brother Cole.

Leo Barker with mum Laura.Pretty Muddy Kids
Leo Barker with mum Laura.

Leo also received a medal after completing the 5k mud-splattered route with obstacles including an inflatable mud slide, space hoppers and a scramble net.

More than £78,756 was raised for Cancer Research UK at the event which more than 1,000 people took part in. The vital funds raised will enable scientists to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer -helping to save more lives.

Leo said: “Thanks to life-saving treatment I’m back at school and back on the judo mat.

“In June 2020 when the world was in lockdown I was diagnosed with cancer in my liver. My mum took me to the doctor because I had a lump in my stomach. Later that day the doctors in the hospital told me it was cancer. Everything happened so fast. I had chemotherapy and eventually needed a liver transplant. I was flown down by air ambulance to Birmingham Children’s hospital where I had my transplant.

“I was dancing six days later. I am so happy to be feeling better and to have my strength back. I am loving spending time with friends and competing on the judo mat again. I recently won a bronze medal at the British Judo schools championships. I am so grateful to all the doctors and nurses and research teams that helped make me better.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research. 

People of all ages took part. The Pretty Muddy Kids event was followed by a Pretty Muddy event for men and women.

Every year around 33,200 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland and one in two people in the UK born after 1960 will get cancer in their lifetime.

Now organisers of Pretty Muddy Edinburgh are appealing for people to make every step count by paying in sponsorship money as soon as possible.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who took part in Pretty Muddy Edinburgh.

“Life-saving research is being funded right now thanks to our supporters who fundraise. The atmosphere at Pretty Muddy Edinburgh was hugely moving- full of emotion, courage, tears and laughter as people celebrated the lives of those dear to them who have survived cancer and remembered loved ones lost to the disease.

“Now we’re asking everyone who took part to return the money they’re raised as soon as possible. Funds raised- whether it’s £10 or £100 will help scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, helping save more lives.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, raises funds for world-class research to help beat 200 types of cancer – including bowel cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, children’s cancers and leukaemia.    
  
Oonagh Turnbull, Head of Health Campaigns at Tesco, said: “This will be our 21st year in partnership with Cancer Research UK and Race for Life and we hope this year can be the biggest yet.”  

Race for Life events in Scotland 2022

Sunday May 8: Race for Life Stirling 5k and 10k, Gannochy Sports Centre, University of Stirling.

Sunday May 8: Race for Life Hopetoun House 3k, 5k,10k, South Queensferry

Sunday May 15: Race for Life Fife 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy 5k, Pretty Muddy Kids, Beveridge Park, Abbotshill Road, Kirkcaldy.

Sunday May 22: Race for Life Glasgow 3k,5k,10k, Glasgow Green, Greendyke Street, Glasgow.

Sunday May 29: Race for Life Inverness 5k, 10k, Bught Park, Inverness

Sunday June 12: Race for Life Irvine 3k, 5k, 10k, Beach Park, Beach Drive, Irvine

Sunday June 12: Race for Life Aberdeen 5k, 10k, Kings Links, Beach Esplanade, Aberdeen

Sunday June 19: Pretty Muddy Edinburgh 5k, Pretty Muddy Kids, The Meadows, Melville Drive, Edinburgh

Sunday June 26: Race for Life Edinburgh 5k, 10k, Holyrood Park, Queens Drive, Edinburgh

Sunday June 26: Race for Life Falkirk 5k, 10k, Callendar Park, Callendar Road, Falkirk

Saturday September 17: Pretty Muddy Motherwell 5k, Pretty Muddy Kids Motherwell, Strathclyde Country Park, Hamilton Road, Motherwell

Sunday September 18: Race for Life Dundee 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy 5k, Pretty Muddy Kids, Camperdown Park, Dundee

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