A family of fundraisers has pledged to make helping a hospice an annual crusade to pay back the ‘guardian angels’ who looked after them in their darkest hour.
North Yorkshire wife and mother Gill Raw spent her final four weeks at St Teresa’s Hospice after a six year battle with breast cancer, making her one of the longest residing patients.
Husband Andy, of East Cowton, between Richmond and Northallerton, has just completed his first fundraiser, five months after losing Gill aged just 54.
He and his friends Pete Clark, John Marshall and Charlie Copeland supported in a spares van by Pete’s cousin Stuart, have just finished the gruelling 170 mile Way of the Roses cycle route raising in excess of £10,000 so far for the hospice.
The three day ride took them from Morecambe Bay, through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, across the Yorkshire Wolds, ending in Bridlington.
“It was great,” said Andy. “It was all about St Teresa’s and the memory of my wife Gill. It was incident-free, not even a puncture, and the weather was beautiful.
“It was challenging with steep climbs; it wasn’t for the feint-hearted. We got a bit lost in York but were given an escort by two lady cyclists. It’s a breath-taking journey and a wonderful experience. We chatted about Gill as we rode along and a lot of people asked us what we were doing. People are interested and there are a lot of caring people out there.
“Now we want to do something every year, it will be our annual St Teresa’s crusade. The goal is to raise as much money as possible and that will be on-going. A lot of people are touched by cancer and you have to hope there is someone there when they are needed. We were fortunate enough to have St Teresa’s and the staff are incredible in the most challenging of situations.”
Gill was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and it returned with a vengeance in 2020 having spread to her brain, liver, lungs and spine. Their daughter Charlotte helped care for Gill for as long as possible at home.
She said: “It was very intense looking after her. I was proud and wanted to look after her but I eventually went into crisis because it was so hard. One of my mum’s closest friends Pauline Shipley works at St Teresa’s and told us what a great place it is.
“I was shocked that it didn’t feel like a hospital, it’s an amazing place. When we got mum into St Teresa’s we could all relax. We didn’t have to worry about keeping mum safe and we got to spend quality time with her. We felt enveloped in love and care. They make the process so much easier and helped us cope with her death – they are like guardian angels.
“When you have had the privilege of having a loved one die in St Teresa’s it makes you feel committed to helping them in return and we will do that for our lifetime.”
Andy added: “St Teresa’s is a truly amazing hospice with the most caring, compassionate and dedicated staff. We would not have coped without them and feel honoured that Gill’s palliative care was provided by them.
“This is just the start of the journey for me and I have loved it so much. With working, I haven’t had much time to help charities but now I have more time on my hands, it sits very well on my shoulders and next time I want to raise more than £10,000.”
St Teresa’s Hospice needs to raise £3m a year to provide free, in-patient and community care for people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.
Walkers are being asked to make their own memories of their loved ones at the next major fundraiser.
The Moonlight and Memories Walk will be staged in South Park, Darlington, on October 6 from 6.30pm.
Every participant receives a tee-shirt, glow wand, medal, hot drink and fundraising support.