Clapham couple cancel engagement party and raise £10,000 with half-marathon to support groom’s cancer-stricken dad

A young Clapham couple cancelled their engagement party and instead walked 13 MILES during a night-time cancer charity marathon to support the groom-to-be’s cancer-stricken dad.

Celebrations for Harry Vickers and Emma Thornton Jones’s engagement have been put on hold because Harry’s father Tony is very ill in hospital with cancer.

The pair were due to celebrate their engagement with 62 guests at their favourite pub on Saturday night but instead joined more than 16,000 other people for Cancer Research UK’s annual Shine Night Walk through London.

Harry, 27, said: “Very sadly, the doctors told us dad isn’t going to be around for the wedding next June so we decided to focus on the engagement party.

“But last week, dad had a serious health wobble and we just felt a party didn’t feel right.

“I had seen posters advertising Shine, which raises money for Cancer Research UK, and it just seemed that doing something like that would be the right thing to do.

“[It’s] part celebration but also doing something that recognises the battle Dad has fought for the last two years and supporting research that can save lives.

The group, aged from 19-70 and including Harry’s mum Pippa, hadn’t done any training so opted to walk the half marathon 13-mile route through the night.

Harry said: “There is of course a very sad element to this. But everyone is affected by cancer and doing this seemed the most positive response to the situation.

“To have our family and friends with us, literally every step of the way, felt great.”

shine walk cancer research group shot

By this morning, the couple’s fundraising page rocketed to more than £10,000.

Harry, who works in renewable energy, said: “Dad is the most ridiculous party animal and would have loved the pub night.

“As it is, he is in hospital so this seemed like a much more appropriate way of celebrating our two families coming together.”

Tony, 71, a former managing director of BSkyB was diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago.

He is an avid Norwich City fan so Harry and Ems team, nicknamed Tony’s Tigers, paid tribute to his team by wearing yellow and green ribbons.

Lynn Daly, spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK, said: “For Harry and Ems to hold their celebration at our Shine Night Walk is a thoughtful and touching gesture.

“We feel very honoured to have shared their special night.

“They and all our “Shiners” have made a significant contribution to our life-saving work and a real difference to people’s lives.”

Money raised through Shine Night Walk funds research into all 200 types of cancer or 12 specific types of cancer including lung, bowel, breast, prostate, children’s cancers, brain, skin, ovarian, leukaemia, pancreatic, cervical, and testicular.

Now in its fourth year in London, Shine Night Walk brings a unique glow to the capital as participants illuminate themselves with lights, glowsticks and sparkling outfits to form a human road of light as they walk through the dark streets.

The moving parade of light symbolises the hope the charity’s research scientists bring to the dark days of cancer.

Shine Night Walk participants can walk the full marathon (26.2 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles).

To sponsor Harry and Ems visit

For more information on Shine visit

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