300-strong Vespa rally will take Portsmouth woman with terminal cancer, 50, on 'dream' bucket list trip
UNTIL now Vespa lover Lorraine Marshall has only used her scooter to go as far as Queen Alexandra Hospital for her cancer check-ups.
But on Sunday she will tick an item off her bucket list – when as many as 300 riders join her for a journey she has long only dreamed of.
The 50-year-old from Eastney, who has stage four terminal cancer of the lung and liver, will ride from Farlington to Petersfield with Vespa Owner’s Club UK.
Good Samaritans organised the rally after Lorraine told the club on Facebook how she yearned to go on a ride out before she dies.
‘This is on my bucket list – it's one of my dreams,' Lorraine told The News.
‘Ever since I was young I used to watch the Mods go past. I loved the scooters but I could never afford one.’
She added: ‘I can't explain how excited I am – I wish it was tomorrow.’
Lorraine’s lifelong plan to hit the road on a Vespa was thrown into jeopardy after doctors diagnosed her with metastatic melanoma in October.
The cancer is the result of a melanoma she once had removed from her shoulder returning and spreading to other parts of her body.
The ride will mark the first time she has ever been on her Vespa with other riders, since her husband Peter bought the scooter in 2016.
‘An ordinary moped doesn't do anything for me, but I feel so proud sitting on a Vespa,' she said.
‘I want to thank everyone for making my bucket list ride possible.
‘I will remember this day till I die, if you pardon the pun.’
Wayne Belcher of Vespa Owner’s Club UK, from Bristol, said he and other members were ‘amazed’ when Lorraine sent her initial message.
‘In the nature of the club, even though she is not a member and we didn't know her, a few of us decided we would go down to Portsmouth with her,’ said Mr Belcher, who is 52.
‘I put it on our Facebook and with that it just snowballed. We've made custom patches and we’re going to give Lorraine a plaque too.’
Riders will meet at Sainsbury's in Farlington at 11am on Sunday before departing for The Square, Petersfield, about half an hour later.
The event will also fundraise for Rowans Hospice, Lorraine’s chosen charity, with collection boxes set to do the rounds on the day.
Scooter Meet and Ride Times member Sean Mason, 52 from Waterlooville, helped organise the charity link.
He said: ‘We were all touched by Lorraine’s story and there are people in our own group who have cancer or are survivors.
‘We know the Rowans is her chosen charity and it’s one that means a lot to people, so we’ve spoken with them to organise taking round some collection boxes on the day.’
The message that got the club’s attention
THIS is the message Lorraine sent to Vespa Owner’s Club UK on Monday, August 5 to get their attention.
It has since been shared to other groups, including Scooter Meet and Ride Times (SMaRT) and Proud to be a Portsmouth Scooterist, from which swathes of riders will join Sunday's rally after being touched by Lorraine’s story.
‘Hi my name is Lou and I would really love it if you could fill one of my items on my bucket list.
‘I would love to do a ride out but I feel too old at 50.
‘I have terminal cancer. I still ride my Vespa, but for how long I don’t know.
‘It has been a wish of mine for so long – I’m still a learner after 7 years.
‘I’m hoping you can help me. Thanks so much, Lou xx’
Graham Humpston of SMaRT, 29 from Southsea, said: ‘Lorraine’s story is one many people can relate to, sadly.
‘Scooter riders and the people of Portsmouth have good natures, so we were very happy to help when she contacted us.’
‘Life absolutely changed after I was diagnosed’
SINCE she was born, Lorraine has also battled glomerulonephritis – a kidney disease that injures the units of the kidney that clean blood.
She has had two kidney transplants and the hereditary illness tragically led to the death of her two baby sons, days after birth in 1986 and 1993.
Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, she said her attitude to life has ‘absolutely changed’ – and her bucket list reflects that.
‘I’m going to die,’ she said.
‘I've asked [doctors] that and they said yes – but I don't know how long I've got left.
‘Number one on the list was to celebrate my 50th birthday, which I've done.
‘Another thing was to give my daughter away at her wedding, which I've done.
‘But I’m also trying to do 10 nice things for people – like buying an old person’s shopping or buying flowers for a random person.’
On her new outlook at life, she added: ‘If you are going to do something nice for someone, do it now.
'Don't think about it and don’t wait around.’
Other items on Lorraine's list include going skinny-dipping and celebrating 10 years of marriage next year.