Hundreds take part in Portsmouth’s Relay for Life

SMILES Kevin Frost and Jane Cook (112517-0063)
SMILES Kevin Frost and Jane Cook (112517-0063)

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THEY had come through their darkest days – and now cancer survivors were among those helping others by taking part in Portsmouth’s 15th annual Relay for Life.

Around 370 people took part in the event, which this year raised an incredible £55,500.

TEAM Sam Kelly, 16, Erin Kelly, 11, Marianne Kelly, 39, Steve Pratt, 60 and Matthew Pratt, 31, took part.    Pictures: Michael Scaddan (112517-0079)

TEAM Sam Kelly, 16, Erin Kelly, 11, Marianne Kelly, 39, Steve Pratt, 60 and Matthew Pratt, 31, took part. Pictures: Michael Scaddan (112517-0079)

Teams took turns to walk around the track at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth non-stop for 24 hours, from midday on Saturday, through until midday on Sunday, to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Sarah Gilmour, from the event committee of the Relay for Life, is a survivor herself, having battled Hodgkin’s Disease when she was just 14.

She said: ‘It went really well. Everybody battled through the weather and kept their spirits up.

‘Some teams were up the whole time.

‘The whole idea is to raise as much money as we can.

‘So many people have been touched by cancer, whether it’s themselves, or a family member or a friend.

‘They all know someone. So it’s a brilliant opportunity to get together and raise some money.’

At 10pm on Saturday there was a candle of hope ceremony, where a local choir sang.

There were competitions and games to keep the momentum going, and many groups set up tents to get some rest through the night.

Many people dressed up as there was a party theme to celebrate the 15th anniversary.

Mike Smith, 63, from Shearer Road, beat bowel cancer five years ago. He said: ‘I have learned a lot about Cancer Research.

‘There is a lot more they have got to do to keep people like me alive and stop us being just statistics.

‘By doing this I just feel it’s giving something back to thank them for saving my life.

‘I walked 15 miles. I do wish the weather had been kind to us.

‘The team spirit is absolutely fantastic out here. A lot of us don’t know each other but for the weekend we are all one little community.’

As they crossed the finish line yesterday afternoon, a huge cheer rang out.

In a closing speech, chairman of the committee, Sandy Parkinson, said: ‘I can’t believe that we have got to the end of the 24 hours. It’s been such an amazing weekend.

‘Even when the weather was at its worst, you were still all smiling and singing and raising money. It’s been phenomenal.’