Kind-hearted fundraisers unite to make terminally-ill Jo’s final wish come true

Jo,. centre, with her partner Shane Anthony, left, and her friend and event organiser Leanna Stratford surrounded by friends, family and supporters''Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180089_011)
Jo,. centre, with her partner Shane Anthony, left, and her friend and event organiser Leanna Stratford surrounded by friends, family and supporters''Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180089_011)
Ron Butterfield

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SCORES of kind-hearted fundraisers pulled together to raise cash for a final holiday for their terminally-ill friend.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2015, Portsmouth mother-of-three Jo Evans has been given just months to live.

Sue Bridger, left, and Sharon Wright organise the raffle''(180089_001)

Sue Bridger, left, and Sharon Wright organise the raffle''(180089_001)

In a gesture of solidarity, her closest friends united at a fun day held in her name yesterday – raising more than £2,000 to give her one last family getaway.

Speaking at the event at the Farmhouse pub in Burrfields Road – which was organised by her best friend Leanna Stratford – Jo said she was ‘utterly overwhelmed’ by the turnout.

The 53-year-old said: ‘There are people here I don’t even know – I can’t put into words what this day means to me.

‘To see all these faces, knowing the time people have put into fundraising and being here today is utterly overwhelming.

Lewis Amey (Jo's grandson) supports Jo through a sponsored lag wax''Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180089_005)

Lewis Amey (Jo's grandson) supports Jo through a sponsored lag wax''Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180089_005)

‘I can’t believe it – I am so thankful.’

Leanna Stratford, from Bedhampton, had been planning the fixture for more than a year but only told Jo about it last month.

Now, she has collected more than £2,000 to send her friend to Cyprus – while simultaneously raising awareness of breast cancer.

The 45-year-old said: ‘I met Jo about 10 years ago and she has had a massive impact on my life.

Maddison Reid, aged 10, enjoying the day'''(180089_008)

Maddison Reid, aged 10, enjoying the day'''(180089_008)

‘Unfortunately we know she is terminal now, but ever since her diagnosis she has fought this head-on.

‘She truly is an inspiration and I cannot thank everyone enough for their efforts in making this fun day happen.

‘Not only have we raised enough money to make Jo’s dream holiday come true, but we are also highlighting the huge issue of breast cancer.’

Those attending the fun day enjoyed a wide range of activities for all ages – including carnival games, face painting, a big raffle and a teddy bear tombola.

As the event drew to a close, Leanna surprised Jo by having her head shaved.

With her blonde locks now being donated to the Little Princess Trust, Mrs Stratford said: ‘I wanted to do this as a sign of solidarity for my friend and I’ve even managed to raise more than £500 in sponsorship. It feels amazing.’