If you’re out and about in the Harborough area next month, don’t be too surprised if you see a pirate. He’ll be looking like Captain Jack Sparrow from the film series Pirates of the Caribbean, and striding along purposefully.
It’s not Johnny Depp, obviously - it’s Market Harborough’s lookalike Steve Rippin, and he’ll be walking every day in June to raise money for cancer research.
Steve (41) was inspired by his dad George Rippin, who was diagnosed with mouth cancer this year and underwent a 12 hour operation to remove it.
“Basically I’m walking 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) every day in June to help raise awareness of cancer” explained Steve, who runs a carpet cleaning firm in town.
Steve, who’ll be walking much of the time in full pirate kit, will be part of a national ‘Walk All Over Cancer’ campaign run by Cancer Research UK.
Dad George (64), who runs a carpet supply and fitting firm in Market Harborough, was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue.
He went into hospital in April and is now (touch wood and thinking positively) recovering amazingly well at home in Market Harborough.
George had a piece cut off his tongue and replaced with a skin graft from his arm. He also needed a tracheotomy to keep him breathing.
“Don’t make me out to be special though, I’m just another person who got cancer” he told the Mail.
“I try to stay positive, and I think that’s helped me through. And I tried to be strong for other people - without pretending it wasn’t worrying me.”
Much of the journey through the cancer wards and afterwards has been recorded in live blogs by Steve and George on Steve’s Facebook page. Many people say they have been helped by them.
The live blog on April 3, as George stands in a hospital corridor before his operation, with son Steve trying to be supportive is simply lovely; true, awkward, charming and tender.
Steve said: “It was a tough day saying goodbye to my dad at the hospital and not really knowing what the outcome would be.”
The duo’s openness has brought an outpouring of messages of support on social media.
“It’s been overwhelming really” said Steve.
“And it really helped me to get through the operation” said George - “especially messages from people who I didn’t know who’d seen a Facebook post or whatever and said how it had helped them.”
More than anything, the whole cancer scare episode has reminded a close-knit Harborough father and son what they’ve got in each other.
As Cap’n Jack Sparrow himself once said: “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate”.
Steve has raised more than £500 so far.
If you want to donate, then Steve’s fund raising page is: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/piratesteves-lets-beat-cancer