Caring Ribble Valley mum ready to scale highest mountains for research into early detection of disease her brave dad is battling

Katie Skellern with her dad Peter Edwardson
Katie Skellern with her dad Peter Edwardson

A mum-of-two is preparing to tackle a major challenge to raise awareness of a disease that has had a devastating impact on her family.

Katie Skellern is preparing to scale the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales this weekend.

Katie (front) with her husband, Lee, their children Sophia and Harrison and her friend Jill Wright.

Katie (front) with her husband, Lee, their children Sophia and Harrison and her friend Jill Wright.

And the hardest part of the challenge is the fact she hopes to conquer Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in just 24 hours.

Ready to face the challenge on Friday Katie, who lives in Sabden, said: "I suppose I could have done something easier, like a bake sale, but I thought the harder the challenge the more money we will raise."

And Katie was right, for she and her friend, Jill Wright, also from Sabden, have already raised £3,800 after setting a target of £2,000.

All the money is for Pancreatic Cancer UK to help raise awareness of the disease and also fund early diagnosis which is key to survival, something that Katie feels passionate about.

Katie with her mum and dad, Peter and Sheila Edwardson, on their wedding day in 2017.

Katie with her mum and dad, Peter and Sheila Edwardson, on their wedding day in 2017.

Katie's dad, Peter Edwardson, was diagnosed with the condition in November last year, just two days before his 58th birthday. The disease had been missed as the classic symptoms of pancreatic cancer, which Peter, who is originally from Whalley, had complained of for four months, are often mistaken for other illnesses such as IBS.

Katie (32) said: "If dad had been diagnosed sooner, even by just a month, he would have been able to have had surgery right away.

"But by the time he was diagnosed the tumour had blocked his bile duct causing a toxin in his blood to build up, its too dangerous to operate when the toxin is so high.

"If he was diagnosed sooner he would now be on the road to recovery after major surgery, he would be cancer free.

Supported by his family, Peter has been battling the disease for 10 months, having treatment in two hospitals with stays in the intensive care unit and critical care where he spent Christmas Day.

He has endured multiples surgeries, countless scans and tests and was finally eligible for the surgery to remove the cancer but two days before his operation the family were given the shattering news that two small hotspots had been found on his liver, which they were treating as 'spreadings' and he was no longer eligible for the surgery.

Four months on and Peter has completed three rounds of a brutal chemotherapy regime and his latest scan results were very promising.

The pancreatic tumour has reduced significantly and the liver spots were undetectable. He needs to complete three more rounds of chemo and then have more scans including an in depth scan of his liver.

Katie said: "We have to take each day as it comes.

"My dad is a wonderful, generous man who would do anything for anyone."

The money Katie and Jill raise will help the charity to develop new tests for diagnosis, including sending packs out to GPs to look out for the symptoms that mimic many other diseases.

The duo have been out walking daily as part of their training and last week they tackled the Yorkshire Three Peaks together.

Katie said: "Jill has been there for me and my family as a great support throughout all this and she didn't hesitate in saying 'yes' when I asked her to do the Three Peaks with me."

A close-knit family, Katie works as events manager at the ICS Live, the events and production company set up by her dad several years ago.

Based in Sabden's Union Mill the business is a real family affair as Katie's husband Lee, her brother Shaune, sister Zoe, cousin Gary McLaughlin and her aunt Tracey Edwardson, who is Peter's sister, also work there.

Katie, who is mum to Sophia (three) and one-year-old Harrison, said the courage her dad had shown was inspirational to the whole family. And it is Sophia and Harrison and Peter's two other grandchildren, Mia (nine) and four-year-old Ella who keep him going.

Katie said: "Dad is determined to fight this and has told everyone he wants to see his grandchildren grow up."

Peter and his wife Sheila only tied the knot in 2017 after a 20 year engagement and Peter took 28 members of his family to Mexico to celebrate.

The couple are holidaying in Spain but plan to be at the bottom of Snowdon to greet Katie and Jill at end of their challenge.

Katie said: "Dad has said how proud he is of me for doing this and I can't wait to see him when we have finished the challenge."

If you would like to sponsor Katie and Jill please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katie-skellern-jill-wright