Chesterfield sharp shooter defies cancer

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A skilled gunslinger has won a national competition - despite having cancer in his shooting eye.

Rick Ardern, aged 40, is one of the best marksmen in Britain, even after undergoing major surgery to treat tumours in his right eye.

Surgeons managed to shrink the growth with radiotherapy but the dad still has the condition.

Despite it causing blurred vision he has now triumphed at the shooting world’s English Open contest - beating 89 other competitors.

Rick, who shoots for Chesterfield HFT team and has already undergone two kidney transplants and survived non-Hodgkins lymphoma, said: “Throughout all my health problems I’ve always gone back to shooting. It’s something I love doing.

“When I found out I had a tumour in my shooting eye I thought I’d never be able to do it again. They told me I could lose my vision.”

He added: “I’ve come close to winning the competition before but it’s always been a dream to win – and to think I’ve won with the cancer in my eye is incredible.”

Rick first experienced problems when he was shooting.

He noticed that his peripheral vision was not as clear in his right eye.

Doctors diagnosed a detached retina and referred him to specialists who found the underlying cause was a tumour – called a choroidal melanoma – pushing against the back of his eye.

“It’s incredible that the sport that I’ve loved for all these years, and the hobby that’s got me through difficult times, helped me find the tumour,” said Rick.

“I could have lost my sight - or even worse, it could have spread around my body and killed me.”

Within a few weeks of first visiting the doctor in April last year, Rick was in theatre having a metal plate stitched on to the back of his eye, which gave out radiation for three days.

“It was one millimetre away from the optical nerve, so it could have blinded me,” Rick said.

Competitors in the English Open have to shoot at 30 targets.

The targets are placed between eight and 45 yards away and range in size between 15mm and 40mm.

Rick managed a score of 56 out of 60 and ended up in a shoot-out with two opponents where he hit every target, earning the national title.

The champion, a toolmaker from Bakewell, has checks every six months to ensure the cancer hasn’t spread.

Wife Aretha - who married Rick last September - said her husband deserved to be praised.

Aretha has one child from an earlier relationship, while Rick has two with his previous partner. She said: “I’m so happy he won the competition - I’m so proud of him.”