Skip to main content

First 'community relay' ride braves pollution to sound alarm on non-smoking lung cancers

B4L 920X540
Photo by Kevin Donaldson

Britain’s first ‘community relay ride’ is visiting some of the nation’s most polluted streets to raise awareness of air pollution and deadly non-smoking related lung cancers.

The riders hope to raise between £5000 and £7000 for each county they visit, with all donations going to the Ruth Strauss Foundation, ALK Positive UK and Friends of the Earth Campaign for Clean Air.

The Breathe4Life team – riding in memory of Ruth Strauss, late wife of ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss – will pass through 35 counties as they aim to travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats via some of the UK’s most polluted areas.

Members of the public are encouraged to join the dozens of patients, doctors, nurses and supporters who have already agreed to join the relay as it passes through their local area.

To donate or sign up for the ride, please visit

“A very close friend of mine, Ruth Strauss, died of a rare lung cancer last December. It was just a year from diagnosis to death, aged 46,” said Susan Jobling, a professor of environmental toxicology at Brunel University London, who is leading the ride alongside her husband, Wayne.

When separated from smoking-related cancers, non-smoking lung cancers are the 8th deadliest cancer killer in the UK, with 13,000 new cases per year. Despite this, says Prof Jobling, awareness remains low even amongst some medical staff, who tend to associate lung cancer only with smoking.

“It has become apparent that there was a need to raise awareness of these types of lung cancers, and to highlight the fact that the number of people being diagnosed with these cancers is rising. Two-thirds of those diagnosed are women,” said Prof Jobling.

“The amount of research that has gone into non-smoking lung cancers is small compared to other cancers, for example, leukaemia, which gets eight times more research money per mortality per year than lung cancer. Breast cancer gets about four times as much, and prostate cancer twice as much.”


Susan and Wayne will travel the entire lenght of the UK, from Land's End to John O'Groats

The 16-day ride ‘Le Jog’ – a ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats – started from Cornwall on Sunday (22/9) and will travel east towards London, before heading west to Wales, then north via Manchester and Cumbria. The ride will then head for Edinburgh, before traveling up the spine of Scotland on its way towards the UK’s most northerly point. Where a normal Le Jog is between 900 and 950 miles, the Breathe4Life ride will take in over 1400 miles.

“We are taking in urban areas where air pollution is known to be an issue,” said Prof Jobling, who has been training for the past year for the ride. “We’re going through some cities, particularly down some streets, where air pollution has been reported. To highlight the quality of the air, we’ll be wearing air pollution monitors and reporting on the air pollution as we go.

“We're also promoting cycling as an alternative means of transport and a good form of exercise which decreases one’s risk of respiratory diseases.”

The relay passed through Brunel on it's way north

Anyone is free to join the relay as it passes through their local area, with riders meeting at various cafes and coffee shops along the route. Sir Andrew Strauss joined the rides’ London leg on Thursday Sept 26.

“Riders can join for however long you like – 10 miles, 20 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles or 100 miles. We’re doing about 100 miles every day. If you want to do more than one day, you are also welcome.”

To donate or sign up for the ride, please visit

Reported by:

Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268965