Bowel cancer survivor to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats for Willen Hospice

Posted 17th January 2024

Milton Keynes husband and wife, John and Wendy Cunningham, are taking on the incredible challenge of walking approximately 1000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats. A long-held retirement plan that they thought might not be possible.

Whilst selling his business in 2020, John was diagnosed with Stage 3 – 4 Bowel Cancer. John went through 5-weeks of intense chemo, radiotherapy and a 15-hour, radical life-changing pelvic exenteration operation, resulting in the formation of two stomas. Following an intense recovery period, the couple are more determined than ever to take on the biggest walk of their lives. They even think John may be the only person with two stomas to do it.

To spur the couple on, they have decided to use their challenge to try and raise £10,000 for both St Mark’s Hospital where John had his surgery, and Willen Hospice, a local charity the couple has supported for years through their business.

The husband and wife team aim to start their walk this year on 1 April, and estimate that it could take up to three months to complete. “The plan was to use Bed & Breakfasts, but that was too expensive”, explains John “So, we’re hiring a campervan instead and going to be spending each day walking and then either getting lifts to or from the camper van. How are we going to do that? Hopefully through social media as well as support from friends and family!”

Dawn Clark, Willen Hospice Challenges Fundraiser said, “People like John and Wendy are so inspiring. The last few years have been incredibly tough for them, so I’m sure they have an even greater understanding of the value of our free services to those who haven’t been as fortunate as John, and desperately need our specialist, compassionate care. I am blown away by their ambition to take on this challenge, and we are honoured they are using it as an opportunity to raise money for Willen Hospice.”

Emma Mohan, St Mark’s Hospital Communications Officer adds, “John and Wendy are two extraordinary individuals. John’s resilience and determination to undertake this epic challenge as the first person living with two stomas is genuinely inspiring and we are privileged that he and Wendy have chosen to fundraise for our specialist hospital raising vital funds for our research projects.”

So far John and Wendy has raised an incredible £3,735 of their £10,000 sponsorship target for Willen Hospice and St Mark’s Hospital.

They are grateful to the wonderful Parklife Campers who have given them a special price for their campervan hire and lots of fundraising support ideas.

In addition, they are looking for businesses to sponsor their campervan to help with this expense. These companies will then be advertised on the sides and back of the van as a thank you. The couple are funding all other expenses for the challenge themselves. Follow John and Wendy’s journey and donate to their fundraising page here. To enquire about sponsoring their campervan, email

Find out more about taking on a challenge for Willen Hospice as part of their Rise to the Challenge month here.