Dad from Halifax who was told he would never walk again sets off on 200-mile trek this weekend

Brett Swiffen
Brett Swiffen

HE was told cancer would stop him walking, but Brett Swiffen is setting off on a mammoth 200-mile charity trek this weekend.

The 34-year-old father-of-three from Pellon will walk all the way from London to Halifax to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

As reported by the Courier earlier this year, Brett had been told cancer would mean he would lose the use of his legs and could claim his life.

But he has undergone an amazing recovery and wants to mark it with the sponsored challenge.

“I’m nervous but really excited,” he said.

“It’s five years since I was diagnosed and it feels like I’m closing a chapter and opening a new one when this is finished.”

Brett was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma on his 30th birthday – May 21, 2007– and was told it was at the most advanced stage.

He underwent intensive chemotherapy to tackle the cancer in lymph nodes in his throat, groin, stomach and right armpit.

Scans showed the cancer had reduced but then in May 2009, he returned to hospital after suffering back pain and was given the devastating news that another tumour has been found, this time in his spine. The tumour was removed and he was then told he needed a bone-marrow transplant – a last resort that he might not have survived.

He had to say goodbye to his family – partner Nicky Brown, five-year-old twins Rosie and Holly and 20-year-old stepson Nicholas – before he went in for the operation in case it was the last time they saw him alive.

But the procedure was a success and, while he needed to be in hospital for several months, he has been working hard to recover and has managed to learn how to walk again, even playing rugby for Halifax Vandals.

He has had to give up his job as a mechanic as doctors say the infection risk is too high but he is keen to keep working, and has a delivery driver job.

Brett has been told the cancer has reduced and is now confined to just his stomach.

To train for the challenge, he has been walking six or seven miles to Warley and Mount Tabor after work and putting the twins to bed.

And on his days off, he has been walking from Pellon to Elland, Brighouse, Hipperholme and sometimes to Queensbury before heading back to Pellon.

He has booked places to stay for this first two nights of the walk but will have to carry with him two-stone of equipment so he can camp for the rest of the journey.

Brett will travel to London with his family on Saturday on a train and set off walking back to Halifax from outside Buckingham Palace on Sunday.

He expects to finish outside The Lodge fish and chip shop in Savile Park on Saturday, May 19.

So far he has raised £1,200 for the charity which helps people with blood cancer, and he is hoping to bring that total to £2,000.

To sponsor Brett visit