A group of Skinnypigs® fitness instructors who have lost loved ones or supported loved ones through cancer are taking part in Cancer Research UK’s the Race for Life events across the North East side-by-side for the first time.

This summer, Lewis Gibson from Sunderland will be joining his female colleagues, because the previously women-only events have been opened, so that everyone can participate.

To mark the change, six of the Skinnypigs® instructors stand proudly together with signs declaring their personal motivations for joining the Race for Life events across the region.

They’re so supportive of the events, instructors took part in three last year in Newcastle, Sunderland and Chester-le-Street and will be joining a total of five this year. The instructors, who love to make exercise fun and unique, are encouraging others to follow their lead and join at raceforlife.org

Lewis, 22, said: “I’d encourage everyone to join the Race for Life because it’s for such a good cause and supports people who are going through, or have been through bad times. It’s great that men can take part this year. The more people who can join the better. You don’t have to be fit, or wear pink. Taking part is what counts.”

Rachael Erwin 36, from South Shields is leading the way by taking part in five events in honour of her friend Claire Preston.

Rachael will be doing three 5ks and two Pretty Muddy events. She said: “I did one Pretty Muddy event last year and that was enough, but my friend Claire was diagnosed with breast cancer in July last year and I want to do what I can for her this year. The cancer spread to her liver and she’s been in and out of hospital for treatment. It should have knocked her down, but it didn’t, it made her stronger and I’m so proud of her. I can’t run for toffee, I’m walking. If I can take part, anyone can.”

Jill Ramsey, 29, from Washington took part in a 5k event and came tenth. She added: “I hadn’t done a run before but did the Race for Life with Skinnypigs® last year and loved it so much, I did another one by myself too. I joined for my dad. He died of cancer in 2013.

“We also helped at all of the events last year and it was brilliant. It’s such a good thing to be part of. Skinnypigs® did Pretty Muddy last year too and it was such good fun, we’re all looking forward to doing it again this year.”

Beverly Price 44, from Whitburn, lost her sister Julie to cancer. She is joining the Skinnypigs® at the Chester-le-Street Pretty Muddy event. She explained: “We all know someone who has been through cancer and understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. It’s great to be taking part in the Race for Life again and join the amazing supporters who are motivated to make a difference.”

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

Jaelithe Leigh-Brown, Cancer Research UK’s Spokesperson for the North East, said: “We’re very grateful to Skinnypigs® for their amazing support. They’re so inspiring by taking part in as many events as they can. It’s great to see them being united this year, with Lewis joining in. Together we will beat cancer.

“By following their lead and joining the Race for Life events in the North East, people can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.

“Our Race for Life events are fun, colourful, emotional and uplifting. You don’t need to be sporty to take part. You don’t have to train and you certainly don’t need to compete against anyone else.”

One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer, at some point during their lifetime, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before.  Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.

Jaelithe continued: “Every hour, 2 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North East. To make a significant difference in the fight against cancer we need to harness as much energy and commitment as possible, and that’s why we need everyone in the North East to join.

“We’re urging mams, dads, nans, grandpas, brothers, sisters, friends and workmates to show their support by joining the Race for Life. It’s a perfect example of everyday people doing an extraordinary thing – uniting in a common cause to beat cancer.

“We encourage our participants to help raise money in what every way they like – there are lots of ideas on the Race for Life website – because this allows Cancer Research UK to fund vital research that saves lives. This includes clinical trials which give patients in the region access to the latest treatments.”

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend over £5 million last year in the North East on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

To enter Race for Life today visit raceforelife.org or call 0300 123 0770.