In the absence of Wimbledon – Clapham student playing table tennis for 26 hours for cancer charity

Luke Cunningham won’t be jumping the net when his game finishes – he’s likely to break a limb.

But neither will he be able to take three-minute breaks when he changes ends.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the Dulwich College student, 17, from Clapham, will start playing table tennis for 26 hours straight, and will be live-streaming the event online.

Inspired by the 2.6 challenge, keen athlete Luke set himself the task to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, following the support they gave his grandmother – who is now in remission – after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.

He has a fundraising target of £1,000, already raising over £700, and in the run up to the event he has created a light-hearted video to show what he will spend his time doing to entertain himself, from reading books to eating meals – all while still playing.

Luke – who has been training by practising every day in lockdown – said: “I’m lucky enough to be healthy but I’ve seen first-hand the impact cancer can have, and the importance of the support provided by Macmillan.

“My grandmother had several rounds of chemotherapy, and was helped by Macmillan throughout, by counselling and support services.

“With that in mind and given my fitness, I want to help Macmillan so they can be there for those who are not as lucky as me, especially during the lockdown period, when people with cancer are likely to be more vulnerable.”

Luke plans to take short comfort breaks, and will be joined at times by his family for moral support, with his friends joining via video chat around 2am, before finishing midday Sunday. By which time he will probably ping pong a bit.

He said: “I’ll take short toilet breaks, but won’t be sleeping, so at times I will need to dig deep but I know it will be nothing compared to the challenges faced by the people living with cancer who are supported by Macmillan.

“I also hope it will entertain and inspire others to do similar challenges to support causes close to their hearts.”

An estimated quarter of a million people with cancer in the UK fall into the clinically vulnerable category for coronavirus[i] and the charity is experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand for its  services, including thousands of additional calls to the specialist nurses on its telephone helpline.

Emma Stokes-Heley, fundraising manager for London said: “Right now, Macmillan’s support is needed more than ever before but as a charity reliant on public donations we’re also seeing a significant drop in our income and have launched an emergency appeal.  That’s why we’re so grateful for the incredible efforts of fundraisers like Luke, helping us do all we can to be there for people with cancer now and in the future.”  

To donate to Macmillan Cancer Support’s emergency appeal please go to: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/emergency or call 0300 1000 200

To watch Luke’s livestream on the day [May 16], visit Instagram @Luke7Fitness. To donate to Luke, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lukes-26-challenge2021


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