Development & Alumni Relations Office 


07 September 2016

Robbie Martin and Katie Kirkpatrick (née Martin) will be raising funds for Pancreatic Cancer research at Queen’s when they line up for the world’s biggest and arguably most famous half marathon – the Great North Run – this weekend.

Sunday 11 September will be a poignant day for the Martin family when Robbie and his sister Katie join 57,000 runners, joggers, walkers, elite athletes and fancy dress heroes at the mile-long Great North Run start line in Newcastle city centre.

The pair are aiming to raise £7,000 as a tribute to their father, John, who died last year just two months after being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Gifts can still be made on Katie and Robbie’s Great North Run JustGiving page. All proceeds will go via the Queen's University of Belfast Foundation directly to support Pancreatic Cancer research.

Speaking about the challenge that lies ahead Katie said: “Dad would be so impressed by us doing a half marathon. He would also be thinking that we were totally mad and that surely there were more fun ways to raise money like a charity golf match or a wine and cheese soirée!

“Neither of us have done anything like this before! Training for a long-distance run has been a great challenge and we needed a strong focus to help us through some tough days. We know, however, that Dad will be with us every step of the 13.1 miles.”

The facts about Pancreatic Cancer are not encouraging – diagnosis is often late, survival rates are poor and there have been relatively few breakthroughs in terms of treatment.

“One of the most frustrating things about Pancreatic Cancer is the lack of advancements in treatment,” said Katie. “Symptoms are hard to detect and when diagnosis is made there's almost nothing which can be done; this needs to change!”

Robbie and Katie’s mum, Sharon, has been involved with research at Queen’s and in particular with the work of Dr Chris Scott and his colleagues. Dr Scott’s team are developing more targeted treatment plans which it is hoped will lead to dramatic improvements in patient care and more positive outcomes.

In September 2015 a US-Ireland partnership involving researchers at Queen’s was awarded £2.9m to develop new treatments for pancreatic cancer, which is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Almost 9,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK every year. It has the lowest five-year survival rate of any common cancer and one that has barely improved in 40 years.

“We've lost an irreplaceable love in our lives and are committed to raising much needed funds to change these statistics for the better. We're donating directly to the source of the research so that every penny goes as far as it possibly can,” said Katie.

While Robbie expects to complete the 13.1 mile run inside 1 hour 45 minutes, Katie is hoping to reach the finishing line in South Shields in under 2 hours.

“We're doing this challenge to inspire people to make a contribution – large or small – and to think of us dragging ourselves around Newcastle, hoping to beat our personal best times!"

The world’s favourite run will be broadcast live on BBC One from 09:30-13:30 this Sunday, so watch out for Katie and Robbie in their distinctive blue t-shirts!

To find out about supporting medical research at Queen’s visit the Development Office website or contact Helen Surgenor, (Head of Health Fundraising), telephone 028 9097 1568.

General media inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Queen’s Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast, tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.





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