A man from Whitworth has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to Cancer Research UK after losing his wife to ovarian cancer

Retired engineer Arnold Ashworth, 95, has been named a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow – an accolade his late wife Joyce was awarded in 2008.

Arnold and Joyce first started fundraising together in 1964 when Joyce became treasurer for Cancer Research UK Whitworth Branch Committee, a role she had until the week before she died in 2017.

After Joyce died the father-of-two continued to fundraise in his wife’s memory and every year he organises a host of events in his local community from golf days to ladies’ afternoon tea.

To mark his dedication to the cause Arnold was presented with a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow award at a ceremony in Manchester last week.

Lancashire Telegraph: Arnold and Joyce Ashworth Arnold and Joyce Ashworth (Image: Cancer Research UK)

An audience at Manchester Monastery heard how Arnold has dedicated half of his life to fundraising in Whitworth and helped to raise a total of more than £700,000 in aid of life-saving research.

Arnold, who also has a British Empire Medal for his community work and fundraising said: “My wife received the Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellowship in 2008, I went with her to the ceremony in London. I can still taste that fillet steak. It is lovely to be recognised in this way myself, but you don’t do it for the awards.

“Fundraising has been my life. It’s just always been what we’ve done. We were married for 68 years and Joyce was treasurer until the week before she died.

"We had a good life, we did everything together, we volunteered for Cancer Research together and were both founding members of Whitworth Amateur Dramatics.

"It's nice to receive the honour but there's no way I would have got it without all the support from the people of Whitworth over the years, my family, friends and members of the committee, both past and present. I must say a special thank you to Lobden Golf Club which has been responsible for nearly a quarter of the money raised. It's been incredible."

Cancer Research UK’s annual Flame of Hope Awards acknowledge remarkable efforts in volunteering made by people from all walks of life and 2024 marks 21 years of the recognition scheme.

This year the awards are being held at six locations across the UK throughout March. Arnold is among 135 individuals and groups being recognised.  

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said: “Thanks to the dedication of almost 25,000 volunteers supporting us right across the charity – from keeping our shops running to helping us operate many of our outdoor events and so much more – Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of progress that has seen cancer survival in the UK double over the past 40 years.  

  “The Flame of Hope Awards allow us to celebrate and thank the amazing people who give their time and energy wholeheartedly and who have made outstanding contributions. We are proud to have presented almost 2,000 awards since the first ceremony back in 2003 and to be able to shine a spotlight on their incredible efforts and achievements.”  

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, Jemma Humphreys said: “These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like Arnold who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return.    

“Time volunteered is not ordinary time. It’s time infused with passion, drive and determination. It’s time honouring lost family members and friends. Or extra time gained thanks to advances in research.   

“Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.    

“That’s why, with volunteer numbers having dropped significantly due to the pandemic, we’re encouraging people to get involved and start their journey to a potential Flame of Hope Award now.  

“Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and learn new skills, and committing just one hour a week can help make a difference to people affected by this devastating disease.”