AN ACTOR determined to honour his mother's memory after losing her to cervical cancer hopes to inspire anyone affected by the disease to join him and his family for a life-saving run.

Neil Grainger, who starred in TV drama Hebburn, is approaching his 40th birthday and looking forward to celebrating his first Father's Day with his seven-month-old son, Finley.

Tragically, the Middlesbrough-born comedian will be marking the milestones without his loving mother, Janet, who died in 2006 at the age of 59.

Mr Grainger said: “Supporting the Race for Life and Cancer Research UK is very important to me, as I’m aware that there is now a vaccine that can prevent what mum died of.

"The treatment she had was very good – it gave us an extra year together after her cancer was diagnosed as terminal.

“The quality of life now for those with cervical cancer is improving and I’d like to think that in my lifetime, we can eradicate some of these massive cancer killers.

“We’re lucky to have the James Cook Hospital in the region, which is a leader in cervical cancer treatment, but detection rates are still too low.

“My mum didn’t go to the doctors when she first had symptoms. She was scared of being judged for being overweight. If something isn’t right then please get it checked out, as my mum may still be here if she’d gone to the doctors sooner.

"Time really is of the essence. My wife Zoe makes sure that she goes for regular smear tests, knowing what my mum went through."

The Northern Echo:

Cancer Research UK's Race for Life events were previously only open to women, however fathers, grandfathers, sons, uncles, nephews and brothers can take part this year.

Mr Grainger will be completing the Middlesbrough Race for Life on Sunday, June 9, at Centre Square. Anyone who signs up for the fundraiser before June 10 will receive half-price entry using code Summer50.

Little Finley will be supporting his dad on the day too. Mr Grainger added: "I look at Finley now and see elements of my mum in him. His personality is coming through and little things in him remind me of her. It’s nice to see that.

“You won’t regret taking part in the Race for Life as it’s a wonderful experience.

"You’ll see Middlesbrough in all its glory and the difference its people can make by coming together to beat cancer.

"It’s truly a fantastic town. I’m looking forward to taking part as it’ll be a good chance for me to start to get back into shape and lose my baby weight.”

Cancer Research UK helped introduce the UK cervical screening programme – one of the most effective cancer prevention measures ever implemented. This test saves thousands of lives from the disease every year.

The research also set the stage for today’s human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination programme – routinely given to girls aged 12 to 13 – which helps protect them from cervical cancer. This vaccine has the potential to cut the number of cases of cervical cancer and prevent thousands of deaths.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.

Simon Round, Cancer Research UK’s event manager for Middlesbrough, said: “We are very grateful to Neil, Finley and Zoe for their support.

“By joining the Race for Life, people in the North-East can make a real difference in the fight against cancer. Money raised will help Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.

“Our Race for Life events are fun, colourful, emotional and uplifting. You don’t need to be sporty to take part. You don’t have to train, and you certainly don’t need to compete against anyone else. It’s a perfect example of everyday people doing an extraordinary thing – uniting in a common cause to beat cancer.

“By taking part in Race for Life and raising money for research, our participants play a crucial role in helping to turn discoveries made in the lab into better treatments for patients in the region and across the UK.”

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend more than £5m last year in the North East on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

  • To enter Cancer Research UK's Race for Life events, visit