Ribbleton man completes peak challenge in memory of his Scorton niece

Gavin Howard and Pippa's mum Michelle Cole
Gavin Howard and Pippa's mum Michelle Cole
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A devoted uncle has taken on the Peak to Peak Challenge - with a twist - in memory of his niece.

Gavin Howard, of Ribbleton, climbed Ben Nevis, cycled from there to Scafell Pike, before hiking up England’s highest mountain. It was a tough challenge, but the thought of his five-year-old niece Pippa Cole, who died in February, kept him going.

Gavin Howard and his niece Pippa Cole

Gavin Howard and his niece Pippa Cole

The Scorton youngster, who had three older siblings, had a brain tumour and was a constant inspiration to Gavin.

The 38-year-old said: “When Pippa was 18 months old she was being sick and had really bad headaches so her mum, Michelle, and dad, Scott, took her to hospital, where they found she had a tumour at the back of her brain.

“She had chemotherapy and radiotherapy twice. She got better, then she got worse and the cycle repeated again. She was up and down for three-and-a-half years.

“I saw Pippa deteriorate over time. She was a happy little girl. She never complained. It was just part of her life as she had dealt with it ever since she was 18 months old.

Gavin Howard and colleague Rachael Lumb

Gavin Howard and colleague Rachael Lumb

“She didn’t fully understand and she saw going to Manchester Children’s Hospital as an adventure.

“Specialists at Manchester Children’s Hospital were in discussion with specialists at The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre about Pippa’s treatments and moving forward, so I decided I wanted to raise money to give something back.

“I looked after Pippa from the age of five weeks old to one year and we were very close. She was as close to having my own child, so this was really important to me.

“Two years ago I did a half marathon with my sister, Michelle, in aid of Manchester Children’s Hospital. I wanted to challenge myself and do something difficult to raise as much as I can.

Gavin Howard and his niece Pippa Cole on her fifth birthday

Gavin Howard and his niece Pippa Cole on her fifth birthday

“It was a lot harder than I imagined. I had to cycle 263 miles in three days. Cycling on consecutive days on my own was tough. But it was nice having Pippa’s mum, Michelle, there to hike up Scafell and complete the challenge. I was also joined by my colleague from Esh Border Construction, Rachael Lumb, for the trek up Ben Nevis.

“It was also very wet. With it being on the summer I hoped for better weather.

“But I feel really good that I have accomplished it. I completed the challenge and raised £2,000.”

To make a donation visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peak2peak4pip