Slideshow: Portsmouth Relay for Life

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Hundreds of impressive people battling cancer raised tens of thousands in a gruelling relay.

Across 24 hours, 460 people took to the track at the Mountbatten Centre in Stamshaw, walking and running in 31 teams to generate vital funds to research the disease.

ACHIEVEMENT The Havant Reformers team from Capita in Havant doing their bit to support Portsmouth Relay for Life

ACHIEVEMENT The Havant Reformers team from Capita in Havant doing their bit to support Portsmouth Relay for Life

And with the event in its 20th year the teams raised a huge sum of £74,870.

Among them was Ness Hillary, 56, who is battling ovarian cancer – for a third time in three years.

Ness, from Purbrook, is a member of Portsmouth Rock Choir, and when the singers learnt of her diagnosis they poured their hearts and souls into fundraising.

Sitting in her wheelchair Ness powered through the final lap of the Relay for Life on Sunday with support from her 16-strong team, the Rocky Rockies.

(left to right),  Jane Sutherland, Mikaela Grant and Sharon Button.
Picture Ian Hargreaves (160983-7)

(left to right), Jane Sutherland, Mikaela Grant and Sharon Button. Picture Ian Hargreaves (160983-7)

She said: ‘I’m here with this wonderful, wonderful group of people from Portsmouth Rock Choir raising money for Cancer Research because that’s the only way we’re going to fight this disease is with research.’

Ness is due to finish chemotherapy in October but is taking part in immune therapy trials at UCL in London this October.

She added: ‘To go through this a third time you can’t do it without the help of others.

‘Cancer is not a single person’s journey.

(left to right), students Beth Evans, and Emmie McGee.
Picture Ian Hargreaves (160983-9)

(left to right), students Beth Evans, and Emmie McGee. Picture Ian Hargreaves (160983-9)

‘You need the support and you need research.’

Team captain and prefect at the choir Alison Fenton, 48, from Milton, added: ‘It’s been awesome, the team together, the support of everybody, there’s been no moans or groans, everybody has smiled.’

It was the team’s first year taking part and they raised an impressive £13,967 – the most out of all the teams involved.

Stalwart Ann Stoyles, 56, from Gosport, was taking part for the 15th year.

She was with a 15-strong team – with the youngest member her granddaughter Ivy Aitchison, 10 weeks old – as they went around the track over the weekend.

She set up the team, Pink Ladies, 13 years ago. Ann has breast cancer and her sister Elaine Sharkey, 53, who came down from Manchester, has ovarian cancer.

Ann said coming each year meant the event had a family feel to it.

She said: ‘You meet all the other teams every year, it’s nice to be able to see them even if it’s once a year.

‘It’s like a family – we’ll see them this time next year.’

For event chair Jayne Bowater it was the first time she had put on the relay.

Speaking to the crowd after they finished, she said: ‘Relay for Life gives us an opportunity to celebrate.

‘We celebrate our survivors, the care-givers, and thank them for everything they do, and we celebrate being together at this great event.

‘It also gives us time to remember those we have lost.’