Police officers are canoeing 130 miles from Lechlade to London to raise funds for a 43-year-old friend and colleague diagnosed with terminal cancer.

It is the first event organised by Shield Run, which was set up in the past two months, by Laurence East, who was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2020.

Thames Valley Police sergeant and dad-of-four Laurence, who lives in Minster Lovell, is keen with the time he has left to raise as much money and awareness as possible.

He is undertaking the gruelling expedition during a break in his chemotherapy.

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Six TVP police officers left Lechlade at 10am on Friday and completed an epic 20-mile paddle to Bablock. By late afternoon on Saturday they had reached Oxford.

They camped overnight in Oxford, were up at 5am on Sunday and got back on the river at 8.30am to set off again headed for a campsite in Benson, another 20 miles.

The plan is to spend six to eight hours a day paddling. They hope to reach Teddington by Thursday.

Laurence’s friend and colleague Jim Holmes said: “Friday was really good but wind is a big factor. They were going straight into it and that was quite difficult. But the locks were fine as they were all staffed so they didn’t have to get out of their canoes.

“Although there were a few sore shoulders and backs this morning they are in really good spirits and the weather has been brilliant.

“We slept really well at the campsite, which was lovely – it was hard to believe we were in the middle of Oxford.”

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Jim and Laurence have been friends for 25 years since they were 17 and played rugby together. They stayed mates when Laurence went to Oxford Brookes uni and Jim went to uni in London. Jim joined the police first followed by Laurence in 2002.

Laurence met his wife Amy, a nurse at the JR, at Oxford Brookes and they have children Jacob, 16, Samuel, 14, Niamh, 10, and Orla, nine.

On the Shield Run website Laurence wrote: “Life got turned upside down in September, no huge symptoms, tiredness, weight loss and some gastro problems. Following an acute episode and trip to A&E the CT scan revealed the lesions.

“Boom. 43 years old. In the consultant’s words, ‘this will significantly shorten your life’."

Laurence started fundraising soon after the diagnosis.

Last November he and son Jacob ran a mile a day for 24 days wearing 17kg full public order protective kit. And, lockdown permitting, on June 12 Laurence plans to cycle 102 kilometres from London to Brighton overnight and off-road.

Of his friend’s diagnosis, Jim said: “It came out of the blue. Laurence had been ill for a few weeks and then he came out with ‘I’ve got pancreatic cancer and it’s spread to a couple of places. They are going to treat it, but it’s going to be palliative treatment.'”

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He added: “I remember seeing an advertisement a while ago saying one in five people will get cancer and thinking ‘I’m 38, I don’t have to worry about that. You worry about that when you're 60.’ Now it’s landed on our doorstep.”

Other police forces are also taking part in Shield Run and the total raised so far is nearly a staggering £9,000.

Jim said: "It's often thrown out as a cliche but it really is true that the police is a family - especially in hard times."

Go to shieldrun.org to donate.