A FORMER soldier completed a 500 metre swim, a 40km cycle and an 8.6km run following a two year battle with Stage Two brain cancer.

Known as the 'Kona of the North' or the 'Race To The Pike', the Horwich Triathlon is a particularly gruelling challenge as its final leg sees participants running up to the summit of Rivington Pike and back, following their swim and cycle.

At the event on Sunday, May 7, photographer Bob Howell was on the lookout for a special story and stumbled upon Leyther Dale Boydell, who was wearing a sports top emblazoned with “SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity”. 

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After having a chat with the triathlete, Bob found that Dale had served in the Army in the 1st Battalion Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and later in the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

Explaining his story further, Dale said that after leaving the Army he experienced a different kind of battle as he was diagnosed with Stage Two brain cancer in December 2020.

Despite the devastating diagnosis, the former soldier was not one to give in and after surgery, 35 radiotherapy sessions, and 35 chemotherapy treatments, Dale was declared fit enough to take part in the race as a single-day treatment break.

After participating in the Kona, Dale returned to the Christie Hospital in Manchester to finish his months treatment cycle.

Leigh Journal: Dale was given the all-clear after a two year brain cancer battleDale was given the all-clear after a two year brain cancer battle (Image: Epic Events)

Dale said: “I don’t have any direct involvement with SSAFA – not needed to use its services; not needed to access its support – but I am involved with The Ex-Forces Union CIC in Manchester, a grass-roots organisation lobbying for better recognition of veterans in this area and, eventually, the rest of the UK.

“If the Ex-Forces Union is dissolved, its assets go to SSAFA, so I wore jersey to get a bit of dialogue going, a bit of recognition for the cause, and it worked!”

Although Dale has not approached the SSAFA, the UK’s oldest tri-service charity supports thousands of veterans, serving personnel, and their families each year - helping around 66,000 people in 2021.

Anyone needing support can contact SSAFA’s Forcesline by following this link.