A Chelmorton target shooter has won a national competition despite having cancer in his shooting eye.
Rick Ardern triumphed at the UKAHFT English Open in Worcester last Sunday, after undergoing major surgery to treat tumours in his right eye last year.
The 40-year-old, who still suffers from occasional blurred vision and aching, beat 59 other competitors on the day, scoring 56 and securing his first national title.
Rick, a toolmaker at Otter Controls, in Buxton, said: “It was quite surprising. There were three of us in the shoot-off for first, second and third place and we had to shoot at three targets and I knocked all three down.
“We were laughing about it, because it was so close and I’ve known the other two for years. I had a big smile on my face. I came home a happy chap.”
The champion, who shoots for Chesterfield HFT team, took up the field pursuit aged 11 after shooting at his uncle’s farm in Chelmorton.
But in 2013 Rick, who now lives on Highfield Drive, in Bakewell, was diagnosed with eye cancer, after visiting his GP about a decline in his peripheral vision.
Surgeons at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital warned him an operation to stitch a metal plate into the back of his eye, as part of radiotherapy treatment, could leave him blind.
“I just went out and bought a lefthanded gun, I wasn’t prepared to stop shooting,” he said, pragmatically.
Fortunately surgery was successful, and Rick went on to finish 15th in the World Hunter Field Championships in Northamptonshire in April.
No stranger to doctors, the modest shooter, who has also overcome non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and two kidney transplants, said: “It’s just one of those things. If something else happened, I’d go to the doctors and say what can you do for me? I try not to get down about it.”
Wife Aretha said her husband deserved to be glorified, adding: “He has been brave and stayed positive throughout his illnesses.”