An adventurer from Bristol has helped to steer a Derby firm on a course to rake in an incredible £30m to help cancer patients.
Ultra Events is a company that helps people fulfil personal goals while raising money for charity.
The Derby-based firm organises and trains people for free to complete exhilarating challenges, such as white-collar boxing, ballroom dancing, mixed martial arts, mountain climbs and endurance competitions – changing the lives of both participants and people diagnosed with cancer.
Thanks to Bristolian Alan Knight, a former contestant in TV show SAS:Who Dares Wins, the firm is now set to hit the fantastic £30m milestone, which has been collected for Cancer Research UK since 2014.
Ultra Events founder Jon Leonard said: “We’re really proud to have been able to raise such a phenomenal amount for such an important cause, while at the same time helping people to reach their own goals or make their dreams come true.
“A big thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible over the years.”
The most recent fundraiser was a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro – with Jon taking part alongside Alan.
Alan, 39, applied for Series 6 of the Channel 4 quasi-military training show, just four weeks after major eye surgery, having lost an eye to cancer.
Medics discovered the cancer just weeks before lockdown, in February 2020, and he went on the show “to start enjoying life again”.
He was told that the disease could have spread to his liver and killed him, so he is now keen to live life to the full.
The dad-of-four and self-confessed adrenaline junkie is now in remission and has been completing various life-affirming challenges.
Alan, who runs a gym called Knight Nutrition and Fitness, in Petherton Road, Bristol, with his son Lewis, 19, has previously walked 42 miles in 12 hours while carrying all his own kit to raise money for a friend suffering a brain tumour and also climbed the 2,907ft Pen Y Fan in Wales continuously for 24 hours, hitting the summit nine times.
It was while trekking up Pen Y Fan where he met a group of Cancer Research UK supporters, who suggested he should do something for the charity.
They linked him up with Jon and a team of 40 climbers was put together for the Kilimanjaro trip.
They flew to Ethiopia last month before moving on to Tanzania, where they tackled the 19,341ft mountain during the 10-day trip from which they have just returned.
Alan, who is married to Megan and boxes and does cardio workouts every day, said: “I raised £11,000 in sponsorship before I even set off for this challenge, and also held a charity night to raise money for the climb.
“Because I nearly died from cancer, I just don’t want to waste my life.”
Before departing for the trip, the thrill-seeker promised: “I’ll be back to work in the gym at 6am the next day after arriving home!”
Jon – who is match-funding any sponsorship for his climb – said: “Alan is just one of the inspirational people we meet regularly through our events. I’m honoured to have had him on board. It was tough, but we were up for the challenge, knowing we are supporting cancer patients.”
Simon Ledsham, fundraising director at Cancer Research UK, said: “Since 2014, Ultra Events and their participants have raised an incredible £29.4million for Cancer Research UK and are fast approaching their £30m fundraising milestone.
“This represents a major contribution to the charity’s efforts to beat cancer sooner through the discovery of new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent a disease that will affect one-in-two people at some stage in their lives.
“We are immensely grateful to Jon Leonard, Alan Knight and all of the Ultra participants for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and would like to thank everyone who has supported them through sponsorship. The group have now raised over £240,000.”