Having taken the CrossFit world by storm with their charity's high-octane events, a Burnley man and his co-founder have been invited to Prince Charles' 70th Birthday celebration at Buckingham Palace in recognition of their fundraising success.
Keen to harness the notorious power of the CrossFit community in an effort to raise invaluable funds for cancer research, fitness enthusiast Peter Williams (33) founded Battle Cancer, a non-profit charity organisation which holds large-scale communal fitness events, with his friend Scott Britton last year and has since received backing from CrossFit superstars including Zack George, Jason Khalipa, Craig Richey, and Samantha Briggs.
Father-of-two Peter himself trains at CrossFit Pendle and - seeing how welcoming and inclusive the CrossFit community is - started Battle Cancer to give people of all athletic abilities an opportunity to compete and raise funds for UK-based cancer charities - a cause close to his heart after growing to appreciate the "amazing" work they do when his father was diagnosed with throat cancer from which he thankfully recovered.
"CrossFit is high-intensity, community-focused, and it can be scaled to make sure everyone is in it together regardless of ability," said Peter. "It can get quite addictive [so] combining it with charity fundraising meant that it just took off. The CrossFit community is very supportive and generous, especially towards good causes like ours; we knew from the start CrossFit had the potential to be a big driver of charity."
Battle Cancer's first event took place in August last year at the iconic Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, with hundreds of CrossFit athletes raising over £65,000, leading Peter - whose previous fundraising experience included a charity power lifting challenge called Raising the Titanic in which participants dead-lifted the accumulative weight of the Titanic (52,000 tonnes) for Macmillan - to go bigger and better in 2018.
Having been "overwhelmed" by the Manchester event, Peter and Scott have launched a follow-up Battle Cancer Manchester set to take place on August 4th (and at which Padiham-based DJ, Nadia Lucy, is due to perform) and the inaugural Battle Cancer London on October 20th in Kensington, with both events selling out within a matter of weeks and over 1,200 competitors due to take part.
"Initially, fundraising for cancer research came from a personal angle, then it evolved as we realised how many people it affects," explained Peter. "During [my dad's] treatment, Macmillan provided care for him and support for my mum, [offering] constant advice and reassurance, and seeing all the effort they put into our family was overwhelming - they need the money from somewhere to do the amazing job they do.
"It's a small drop in the ocean, but it's giving back," he added.
Despite the charity having aligned themselves with Macmillan Cancer Support from their inception, the four-person teams taking part in the Battle Cancer events - which see teams complete sweat-inducing workouts featuring Olympic-style weightlifting, high-intensity cardio, and gymnastics - can raise money for their own UK-based cancer charities if they wish.
Due to their close relationship with Macmillan, Battle Cancer have also been invited to attend Prince Charles' 70th Birthday celebration at Buckingham Palace on May 22nd, with Scott and Peter gearing up to attend the prestigious event as Macmillan representatives - "a massive honour" according to Peter.
"We're so fortunate to have been put forward," he said. "It came as a shock, so when we got the invitations we were quite taken aback; we've just got to pick our suits now!"
For more information on Battle Cancer, head to their website at https://www.battle-cancer.co.uk/