A BUSINESS owner who lost his father to cancer is taking on the “Ride of His Life” to raise funds for charity.

Karl Avison, who runs Cedar Barn farmshop, near Pickering, with his wife, Mandy, is taking part in this year’s Macmillan Ride of their Lives on Saturday, June 15, at York Racecourse.

He said: “Sadly cancer touches everyone. In November 2006 my father was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumour and given weeks to live.

“Six weeks later he passed away at home, surrounded by his family, as he wanted and made possible by the help and support of Macmillan.

“Over the past year we have had a number of close friends who have been affected by and treated for cancer giving me an even greater reason to challenge myself and take part in the race.”

Karl said he had always been interested in horses and racing through his granddad.

“I started breeding thoroughbreds when I was 17, and would have loved to have been a jockey, but work got in the way,” he said.

“When I turned 55 and hit mid-life crisis I thought, if I don’t do the race now I never will.

“I knew I would have to be incredibly fit so I have spent the last year training. In fact, it has become more of an obsession; circuit training, running, jockey training at Jack Berry House and I am now riding out five mornings a week at Brian Ellison’s yard before work.”

Karl added: “I was over the moon when I was offered a place in the race this year, really excited. I am very competitive but my only worry is that I don’t want to make a fool of myself or let Brian Ellison and the Jack Berry teams down as they have been so supportive; falling off before the start of the race is not an option.

“I know it is going to be incredibly hard work but ‘bring it on’, I am ready for the challenge.”

The Best Western Hotels and Macmillan Ride of their Lives offers a chance for 12 amateurs to enjoy the “ride of their lives” as they participate in a nine furlong race around the famous Knavesmire in York as part of the Macmillan Charity Raceday.

Karl has pledged to raise £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support for taking part in the “Ride of their Lives”. The first fundraising event, an evening of gin with Macmillan’s of Malton, raised £1,470 and forthcoming events include a plant fair and Giant Family Fun Day.

Karl added: “My Justgiving page has now reached £3,360 and I would like to send a huge thank you to everyone for their amazing generosity/”

Anyone who would like to sponsor Karl can do so at justgiving.com/fundraising/karl-avison