North East charity legend running Sunderland 10k hours before cancer surgery

A man wearing a giant dress decorated with sunflowers.

‘Big Pink Dress,’ a local legend in charity fundraising, will be running Sunderland City 10k the day before his cancer surgery on 13th May.

Many running events in the North East, and all over the country, will be familiar with Colin Burgin-Plews, a South Shields-based fundraising legend known as ‘Big Pink Dress,’ who is often running and fundraising whilst wearing a huge themed dress. Since the Great North Run in 2014, when Colin first wore a pink dress to run for a charity with a pink theme, he has donned a big dress and matching headpiece to raise over £150,000 for various North East charities.

Colin has run London Marathon and the Great North Run several times, both of which have a special place in his heart. He has fundraised for St Benedict’s Hospice, the Kayaks, Breast Cancer Now and Cancer Research UK at Sunderland City Runs over eight years, and has run the 10k five times. “Sunderland 10km is such an amazing route and lush atmosphere,” says Colin. One of the most poignant moments in Sunderland City Runs history was in 2022, when Colin ran in a giant sunflower dress for St Benedict’s Hospice, the charity that cared for his late mother.

After 2022’s Great North Run, Colin had planned to retire Big Pink Dress. “I was absolutely finished with Big Pink Dress over a year ago, but after all I’ve been through returning was the least I could do to help the cancer charities.” Colin has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and will be undergoing major surgery on the 13th May, the day after he has signed up to run the Sunderland City 10k on the 12th May.

Taking on this challenge whilst battling cancer and undergoing surgery is a testament to Colin’s dedication to fundraising and charity work. Colin describes the major surgery, which will include being cut from his chest to his stomach, before his organs are moved to reach the cancer. He will be recovering for three months, and then may still need chemotherapy. After losing his mother three years ago from cancer, he has a lot on his mind leading up to the Sunderland run.

“My feelings before the Sunderland run are always the same, nervous. I always get butterflies before every run.” This year, he has Michaela Berry, a friend to keep him company on the run, and to celebrate with after crossing the finish line. “I get my surgery 21 hours after I start the run so I need to rush!” jokes Colin.

The pair are both fundraising for Cancer Research UK, going to Relay for Life Jarrow, being held at Monkton Stadium on the 13th July.

Details of Colin’s fundraising efforts for Relay for Life Jarrow can be found here: Colin Plews Relay for Life Jarrow

We wish Colin and Michaela all the best for their Sunderland run, and Colin our very best wishes for his surgery and recovery.