Obesity is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK, according to Debbie Gardiner.
And she should know – she’s Cancer Research UK’s new cancer campaigns ambassador for south west Bedfordshire.
The charity’s current mission is to rid TV of junk food advertising.
Debbie explains: “We’d like to remove everything relating to junk food when children are watching.
“We’re trying to get people to understand that overweight children become overweight adults.
“But we’re up against companies that are marketing to increase their sales.”
The grandmother-of-three from Dunstable is passionate about her new role and says the reason she personally feels so strongly about it is the number of young people who have late diagnoses, resulting in catastrophic outcomes.
“That’s my motivation,” she admits. “My daughter has a friend who died of cancer in her early 40s.
“She has another who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in her early 30s. She’d been backwards and forwards to the doctor for three or four years before they actually did anything about it and of course it’s been left for too long – the disease has spread.”
Debbie, 56, is chief executive officer of Qube Learning which provides apprenticeship training funded by the government.
She says: “We’ve always done lots of fundraising for different charities suggested by our staff, but when the wife of one of our team members developed an unusual cancer, we started raising money for CRUK. And then you realise everyone has been touched by cancer somehow.”
Debbie’s money raising ability was so impressive that the charity approached her to become one of its ambassadors.
She says: “People are incredibly generous, it surprises me all the time. Giving not just money but items we can sell. CRUK gave us 10 places on a tour of their laboratory and that was an amazing experience.
“I’ve got a really wide network and use that to spread the message. It’s challenging, but I believe in it totally.”