It is with a very deep and profound sadness that, after a brave and courageous fight with secondary cancer, Gareth Dunn sadly passed away peacefully on the 29th October 2018 aged just 27.
A short review of his life reveals that, after graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in History, followed then by a Masters in International Relations at King's College London, his ambition was to join the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a diplomatic officer - but not before first serving a stint in the Army, for which he was accepted for officer training at Sandhurst Military Academy. Almost immediately after being accepted though, he was diagnosed with Sarcoma in his foot, a rare and very aggressive form of cancer. His right leg (from the knee down) was amputated within weeks of the diagnosis, and ominously he was given a 50% chance of contracting a secondary cancer.
So, his Army career was cut short even before it started. He was then only 23, but Gareth being the person he was, was determined not to let this inhibit him. He applied to join the UK Paralympics Team, and was accepted to train in five disciplines in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, in January 2017 Gareth sadly contracted secondary cancer of the lungs and was given 18 months live, and his dream of becoming a Paralympian was cut short too. Shortly after that, the FCO offered him a position as a trainee diplomat, an opportunity he was sadly unable to accept.
But hey, none of this was going to stop Gareth in his next objective, where he then embarked on a cancer awareness programme to raise £100k as his legacy before he left us. Well, if you don’t already know, he did reach this amazing and incredibly high target, and in such a relatively short period of time - 14 months to be exact! Relatives, friends and even people not known to him pulled out the stops and went that extra mile in a myriad fundraising events to support his cause. Thanks to all of you. Gareth continued to follow his passion for travelling the world whilst writing his blog. As many of you have read, his blog is an inspiring and humorous take on life and living with Cancer, typical of the way he never took life too seriously and without exception always looked on the bright side whilst defiantly poking fun at his situation. His blog has helped a great deal of people facing a similar challenge who have got in touch to ask for advice- which Gareth has tirelessly obliged, always putting others first.
Gareth was an extremely bright, intelligent and highly motivated individual, always polite, charming and courteous and had such a loving and positive attitude to life, even in the face of adversity, which he lived with for so long. So, how do we reflect on a young person who had so much talent and so much to offer this world? Well, he did achieve all his objectives, in that he was accepted for Army officer training; he was accepted to become part of the Paralympic team and, last but not least, he was accepted for a position at the FCO. Sadly though, he was never allowed to advance and fulfil any of those aspirations, except that he did fulfil his ambition of raising £100k for Cancer Research UK, which is a truly amazing and outstanding attainment. Despite his deteriorating health and condition this year, he did manage to participate in, and complete, the London Marathon, which was a truly astonishing achievement given his debilitating condition.
Words cannot express how deeply his loss will be felt by everyone who knew him, personally or otherwise.