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Bob Champion says operation was not going to stop him collecting CBE

Bob Champion said an operation to remove a tumour and a brush with pneumonia were not going to stop him from collecting his CBE on Tuesday.

Famed for his heroics aboard Aldaniti in the 1981 Grand National, Champion described how he became “really ill” after undertaking a walk to raise money for his charity, the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, in April and May.

The 40 For 40 Anniversary walk saw him trek 191 miles on a non-linear route to mark the 191 days of cancer treatment he underwent from 1979 to 1980.

It also celebrated 40 years since his win on Aldaniti, a triumph immortalised in the film ‘Champions’, in which John Hurt played the part of Champion – who had defied aggressive rounds of chemotherapy to beat cancer and ride in the world-famous Aintree spectacular.

Bob Champion is made a CBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle
Bob Champion is made a CBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Describing the walk, he told the PA news agency: “It was painful because I had to have half a kidney out (afterwards) as I had a tumour on it. They couldn’t operate in that month anyway because there wasn’t space because of Covid.

“I finished the walk and had the operation a few days later. That was hard because the operation took about five hours. I was in intensive care for a week and got pneumonia on top of it because the operation was so long.

“I feel 95% fit now, but to begin with it was hard work.

“I’m on good form (today). I was gonna get here though, don’t worry about that.”

Champion was given the award at Windsor Castle by the Princess Royal for his charitable services to prostate and testicular cancer research.

The charity has raised more than £15 million for research over the past 38 years.