Alumnus organises run in memory of inspirational Gareth Dunn


An alumnus from Leeds Trinity University has set up an annual community run in memory of Gareth Dunn, a Leeds man who raised over £120,000 for Cancer Research UK whilst battling with terminal cancer.

Gareth Dunn sat on side of running track.

Leeds Trinity alumnus David Smart set up the Cookridge Community Run last year with the Dunn family, after Gareth passed away, aged 27, from secondary lung cancer in October 2018. Gareth had previously been diagnosed with a Synovial Sarcoma in his foot and had to have his right leg amputated from the knee down.

Despite his adversities, Gareth was an active sportsman and had been selected to train across five disciplines with the British Paralympic squad ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He ran the London Marathon in 2018 and often trained around Golden Acre Park – a few minutes from his home in Cookridge.

Lee Dunn, Gareth’s father, said: “The run was such a great success last year and a fitting tribute to Gareth who would be so pleased that the runners follow a route he would have taken many times whilst training.”

Almost 400 runners took part in the inaugural run in May 2019, raising £10,000 for Cancer Research UK and Older People’s Action in the Locality (OPAL). The money raised will go towards funding for Sarcoma research and OPAL’s mission to reduce loneliness and isolation amongst old people.

This year’s run takes place on Sunday 17 May 2020, with 500 people expected to take part in the 10k run and the children’s fun run. David and the Dunn family are also encouraging people to volunteer as race marshals, car park attendants, first aid assistants, or come along to cheer on the runners. Leeds Trinity students completing work placements with the charities will also be involved in promoting this year’s run.

Ailsa Rhodes, CEO of OPAL, said: “After such a positive experience in 2019, we are keen to be involved in the 2020 Run to help make it even more successful. OPAL has had students from Leeds Trinity University on placement for several years and have always found it to be a very positive experience. This year, students will be involved in the planning, publicity and marketing of the run as well as helping with other OPAL activities.”

David said: “I am over the moon that we have the support of Leeds Trinity University for the Cookridge Community Run 2020. Gareth would be proud that the run has been established to continue his fundraising efforts for Sarcoma research and is also helping the local community. My hope is that the run will grow year on year and continue the great work Gareth started.”

Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Leeds Trinity alumnus David, and are so proud of his work with the Dunn family to make the Cookridge Community Run a success. We hope that our staff, student and alumni community participate in this year’s fantastic event by running, volunteering, and cheering the runners on, all to raise money for two very worthy charities in memory of the inspirational Gareth Dunn.”

Gareth raised more than £120,000 in just over a year for Cancer Research UK, specifically for Sarcoma research to help people in his situation in the future.

This year’s main event sponsors include Bannatyne’s Health Club and Ivory Dental in Horsforth. If you would like to support, or participate in the run, please contact David Smart. Race details can also be found on the Cookridge Community Run website​.