A FORMER finalist in The Great British Bake-Off is taking on a different kind of challenge after her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Steph Blackwell was a runner-up in the last series of the hit show and won over fans with her creative bakes – including a Pina Colada cake.

Next month the 29-year-old, who lives in Chester, will be heading to Sussex to join her uncle John in his home town of Lindfield to complete a marathon walk and raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Steph said: “My dad Roger was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer during lockdown, which was really tough.

“It took quite a while to trickle through. Dad had a test for prostate cancer last year and that was completely manageable, but there was something else that was wrong which was completely unrelated.

“It wasn’t until April that he got a formal diagnosis. It was a massive, horrific shock.

“From my uncle John’s perspective, it’s his younger brother.

“You just don’t expect it.”

Steph and John decided to raise money for cancer research in aid of Roger, and are taking part in the virtual London Marathon event which had to be postponed in April due to the coronavirus crisis.

As Steph already had a place in the London Marathon before the pandemic hit, she automatically qualifies for a place in the virtual marathon on Sunday, October 4.

The pair will be setting off from The Bent Arms in Lindfield at 8am and will walking and running a 26.2 mile route around West Sussex.

Steph said: “We are both so driven.

“My uncle was the leader of the Red Arrows from 1982 until 1984, which is amazing.

“I think we’ve both taken this attitude towards the diagnosis and it’s an emotional outlet for us too.

“We’re doing the challenge in Sussex as John lives there and it’s also so pretty.

“But recently I’ve realised it’s very much not a flat route.”

Steph and John have set up an online fundraising page for Cancer Research UK and have already raised more than half of their target amount, which is £25,000.

Steph said she has been “astonished” at the response from generous supporters so far, who have donated more than £14,500.

She said: “It has really touched us so much.

“It just goes to show how special my uncle and my dad are.

“We even had an incredible donation of £1,000 from someone and we don’t know who they are.”

Steph, who said she never expected to be invited on to The Great British Bake-Off - let alone make it as a finalist - wants to use her following to raise awareness on important issues and to help others.

She said: “It was a magical year. Having been given this platform, I want to make sure I’m helping people.”

Steph will be baking some treats for supporters to buy on the day of the challenge.

To donate to Steph and John’s fund for Cancer Research UK, go to fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/stephs-giving-page-826.