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Luke hopes for a knockout night at fundraising boxing match

3 November 2014

Luke Tofts, a businessman from Beaconsfield, Bucks, is training hard for a very physical challenge – his first ever white-collar boxing match. It’s a challenge that he’s taken on to fundraise for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund in memory of his friend and racehorse trainer, John Hills, who died in June this year aged only 53.

John was a member of a well-known horseracing family; his father was legendary trainer Barry Hills and John’s four brothers are all involved in horseracing in some way. John himself rode 21 winners before turning his hand in 1987 to a hugely successful career in racehorse training. His funeral, held in the village of Lambourn, Berks, was attended by 1,200 family members, friends and representatives from the racing world. He had only been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier in 2014.  

Luke, 27,  first met John and the Hills family at a charity lunch some years ago, striking up a lasting friendship and business association. Luke’s family is also steeped in horseracing – the bookmaker’s firm Walter Prince was founded by his grandfather. At one point, Luke’s grandfather was the oldest on-course bookmaker in England and Luke was the youngest, gaining his licence on his 18th birthday.

When Luke became a racehorse owner himself, there was only one place where the horse could be trained - John’s yard in Lambourn. “John was not only a very talented racing man, he was also the most genuine person you could meet,” says Luke. “He treated everyone the same, whether they owned one horse or ten, and his death at such a young age was a real shock to everyone.”

In tribute to John, Luke will be taking part in a white collar boxing match on Thursday 13 November at the Clapham Grand in London. These are popular events; organisers train the novice boxers for eight weeks, before matching them with boxers of a similar standard for the bout itself.

Luke Tofts in training for his white collar boxing match

“I’m not really built to run a marathon and I wanted to do something a bit different to raise money,” says Luke. “I’ve never boxed before so this is actually a real challenge for me. I could also be knocked out and it’s that possibility that will keep me going through all the compulsory training – I’m definitely taking it very seriously. I hope the horseracing world, as well as my friends, family and business contacts will support me in raising as much money as possible to further PCRF’s research into pancreatic cancer.”

Maggie Blanks, founder and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund said: “Our supporters fundraise by doing all sorts of imaginative events, but very few choose to put themselves in a position where they will be punched! We’re very grateful to Luke for fundraising for us in John’s memory - especially as November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month -  and the money he raises will be put to great use, funding the very best UK research into this disease.”

If you would like to support Luke in his fundraising efforts, please visit:  or you can donate to Luke’s fundraiser by texting BASH90 £10 to 70770.

(photo courtesy of Joanne Tolner Photography)

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