Rugby student drops the drink for cancer charity in memory of dad

Courtney Boxell is giving up alcohol for a month to raise money for charity. Photo by Richard Walker.
Courtney Boxell is giving up alcohol for a month to raise money for charity. Photo by Richard Walker.

A determined student is banning the booze in January to raise money for a cancer charity after her dad lost his battle with the disease just days before her birthday.

Courtney Boxell, from Cawston, Rugby, is taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon and is encouraging others to get involved.

The 20-year-old is completing the challenge in memory of her dad, Mark Boxell, who died nearly two years ago.

Mark, a water treatment engineer, was diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer in February 2013 and died in June at the age of 47 after many months of hospice stays.

His last message to his daughter, ‘You will cope well’, was written inside a card sent for her 19th birthday. She has since had the message tattooed on her wrist in his handwriting and said the Dryathlon was a perfect way to live out the motto.

“I still think about my dad every single day but I have happier memories now,” Courtney said.

“It was terrible to see him suffering at the end and I struggled to get those images out of my head but now I’m starting to think of him in happier times,” she said.

“I did the Dryathlon last year, but it will be even more difficult this year as I go back to university fairly early in January and will be surrounded by all my mates enjoying a drink in the student bars.

“As Dad’s message is tattooed on my wrist, I will spot it every time I raise a glass to my lips, so it should help me stay strong and teetotal. It’s really important to me to raise funds for research and help more people survive, so I want to encourage anyone who can to take part in the Dryathlon,” she added.

Courtney is studying for a degree in community and youth work at Hull University.

The Dryathlon has been growing in popularity since it launched two years ago, with 55,000 people taking part in January 2014 and raising £5.8 million.

Those taking part can pay a ‘tipple tax’ if they fall off the wagon, which is a £20 penalty.

Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Warwickshire, said: “We’re delighted that Courtney is supporting our Dryathlon campaign. Many of our Dryathletes, like Courtney, have told us about the great sense of achievement that comes from realising their goal, with the added bonus of 31 hangover-free days. “Whatever the motivation for taking part, now’s the time to sign up and banish the booze this January.

“We’re hoping Dryathlon 2015 will be our best yet and we believe the men and women of Warwickshire will say ‘cheers’ to helping us succeed in our mission to beat cancer sooner.

“It may be the height of party season, but we’re encouraging people to commit to Dryathlon now, so they’re ready and raring to go on January 1. Every pound raised by our iron-willed Dryathletes will help fund life-saving research.”

To sponsor Courtney, go to
For more information about the Dryathlon, visit