A legendary fundraiser who has raised more than £50,000 for North Devon Hospice is now facing his own battle with terminal cancer.
Ivan Huxtable has been organising his hugely popular Exmoor Ramble charity walk for almost 30 years for good causes and this year’s event on October 4 will be especially poignant as Ivan himself is now receiving care from the hospice.
He has been diagnosed with lymphoma and does not know if he will be around to see the event take place, but is determined it will still go ahead.
The event was initially held for CLIC Sargent in memory of his sister, who was lost to leukaemia just six months after losing their father in a tragic farming accident in 1947.
Ivan himself was diagnosed with leukaemia 15 years ago, but more recently he had bladder cancer followed by two operations, then doctors discovered another lump in his groin and referred him to the hospice.
He is now being supported by Karen Moss, one of North Devon Hospice’s clinical nurse specialists, who visit patients in their own homes to help with medication and pain management as well as offering other support.
He said: “Karen is a great help. She had visited me a few times before the lockdown restrictions were in place, and now we speak over the phone regularly. She’s been very supportive.”
Despite his own battle, Ivan was determined that this year’s Exmoor Ramble will go ahead. He added: “I rang the hospice and said ‘you must be struggling because of all this coronavirus’. And of course, they are because all the fundraising has stopped with everyone indoors.
“So, I spoke to a few of my friends who help me with the Exmoor Ramble and they said they would help make it happen. They have all said that if they can help in any way, they will, so the support I’ve got is amazing.”
Ivan’s sons, Brian and Paul Huxtable, are helping to make sure this year’s Exmoor Ramble goes ahead no matter what.
“We’ve got our orders from Dad!” they said. “It’s certainly poignant, because we don’t know if he will be with us when the walk takes place in October.”
The walk will be as beautiful as always, and that they hoped this year would see the most people join in, as a tribute to the amazing charitable work that Ivan has done over many decades.
Ali Hunt, from the hospice, said Ivan is one of the area’s true legends: “I’ve known Ivan as long as I’ve been involved with North Devon Hospice, which is more than 20 years.
“You could not wish to meet a nicer man, who has such a sharp wit and the most generous spirit.
“What he has done for charity over the years, most notably the hospice, is simply incredible.”
Ivan said that the Exmoor Ramble is something that will continue for a long time: “The support I’ve had from people to make it happen every year is amazing, so I know that they will carry this on for me.
“My sons Brian and Paul will make sure of that, along with my grandchildren William, Danny, Charlie and Maddie.
“I’d especially like to thank my wife Edna for all her support down the years. She has been tremendous, and I’m a very lucky fellow all things considered.”
To sign up to the Exmoor Ramble, to support those being cared for by North Devon Hospice, please visit northdevonhospice.org.uk.