A TIDWORTH soldier who was diagnosed with a brain tumour is taking on a mammoth trek to help fund research.

Having served in the army for nearly 20 years, Sergeant Steve Blake is now embarking on a rather different challenge by hiking 25km around Dorset’s Jurassic coastline.

Steve, 37, will join some 2,000 adventurers for the challenge, as he attempts to raise money for the Brain Tumour Research charity. The event will take place on June 8, two years on from his brain tumour diagnosis.

Incredibly, Steve’s tumour was the same type his mum had been treated for three years earlier, a meningioma. His diagnosis came after suffering from severe headaches while working as an army photographer at RAF Halton, in Buckinghamshire.

Steve endured three operations and radiotherapy, and now both he and his mum, Joan, are doing well.

Inspired by his experience and in a bid to help other patients, Steve, who works as an army photographer, will take on the fundraising walk with his close friend Ash Bennette, 47, of Southampton.

Steve, dad to 15-year-old son Joseph, said: “Coming to terms with my illness was really tough, especially after seeing my mum go through her brain tumour diagnosis.

“It was a year of ups and downs for me, not least because I got married just a couple of weeks after my final operation. Becky’s [his wife] support has been invaluable throughout the difficult times.

“I’m feeling very fortunate to be back at work and in a job that I love. It was important for me to regain a sense of normality after such a turbulent couple of years. The army eased me back in gently and it was a great feeling to be back full-time, working alongside my supportive colleagues.

“I’m really looking forward to completing the Jurassic Coast Challenge, for a charity very close to my heart. It will be the second time I’ve fundraised for Brain Tumour Research, after I participated in a sponsored Walk of Hope last September.

“I hope that taking part in these fundraising events inspires others to raise money for this vital cause.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated Research Centres of Excellence in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

Tim Green, senior community fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research in the South East, said: “We are extremely grateful for Steve’s ongoing support and we hope that he inspires people to donate to this important cause.”

“Less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years and we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”

To donate to the cause. go to justgiving.com/fundraising/bsquared.