Royal Navy diver walks tall after gruelling charity trek

A Royal Navy diver has battled his own illness to complete a punishing long-distance walk in aid of charity.

Warrant Officer (WO1) Tim Sizer, of the Defence Diving School, decided to tackle the 630 mile South West Coastal Path to raise money for Cancer Research UK after being diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma in January 2016.

This disease, which is cancer of the lymphatic system, can affect anyone and it is still not clear what causes it and Tim, having been a Navy Clearance Diver since the age of 17, was fitter than most men of his age when he was diagnosed at the age of 54.

After a six month course of intense chemotherapy, Tim was determined to give something back to the charity responsible for many of the recent advances in cancer diagnosis and treatments contributing to survival rates doubling in the last 40 years.

It was a fantastic feeling to reach the finish line and to complete the challenge that I set out to do and more importantly to honour the kind donations that were made.

Warrant Officer Tim Sizer

Tim undertook the walk from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, a distance of 630 miles over undulating terrain that involved a total climb overall of 114,931 feet – nearly four times the height of Mount Everest!

Most nights Tim spent wild camping, braving the weather to set up camp at points along the way, with only the odd night in a bed and breakfast to recharge both his and his phone’s batteries.

Along the way, Tim’s wife Lynn and various friends and colleagues met up with him to walk stages of the path together and ensured his morale remained high.

Welcome support from wellwishers meant that by day 12 he had raised 80% of his £5000 target and he passed this amount by day 20, just before reaching the halfway point of his walk.

Over the 45 days he spent on the challenge, Tim lost nearly 12kg in weight walking an average of 15 miles a day and carrying 17kg of camping equipment, spare clothes, water and food.

After completing his mammoth challenge, Tim thanked his family and friends who met him at the end of the walk and said, “It was a fantastic feeling to reach the finish line and to complete the challenge that I set out to do and more importantly to honour the kind donations that were made.

"I also have a feeling of immense sadness that it's all over, it really was an amazing experience and a very simple way of life, far removed from the hustle and bustle and stresses of normal life.”

To date, Tim has raised over £6200 and the amount is still increasing.

In addition to raising a fantastic amount of money for Cancer Research UK, Tim has pledged to personally match 10% of the final total and donate this to the Vernon Monument Appeal.

This is an attempt to crowdfund enough money to build a permanent memorial to Royal Navy divers and mine warfare experts at Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays complex, previously HMS Vernon, the home of torpedo and mine warfare training.

Anyone who would like to donate and support Tim’s challenge can still do so at his Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/timsizer