Fitness instructor, 76, raises thousands for Wessex Cancer Trust 36 years since son's death

A COURAGEOUS attitude has seen a pensioner raise thousands of pounds for a cancer charity sparked by the tragedy of her son’s death – and her own diagnosis.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 3:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:31 pm
Fundraiser Linda Griffin from Gosport with volunteers at her latest Wessex Cancer Trust event

For 36 years, Linda Griffin has hosted a party each August to raise funds for Wessex Cancer Trust – raising £5,000 in recent years.

It began when Linda’s son Richard died of cancer at just 23 months old.

He had been at Southampton General Hospital for treatment, and Linda attended a Wessex Cancer Trust group there.

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Linda Griffin from Gosport has raised thousands for Wessex Cancer Trust over the 36 years since her son's death

The 76-year-old Gosport fitness instructor said: ‘I remember sitting in there one afternoon and we’d just arrived then somebody brought in a bottle of squash for the children to share. I thought then and there it’s a way to start fundraising.

‘I wanted to raise some money for the children that were at the hospital so they could have a biscuit or a jar of sweets.’

Her latest event last month saw 50 people turn up and add £650 to her total.

Linda only missed an event when she had breast cancer nine years ago.

This year she had six months of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, but went ahead with the party ‘in remission and with just a bit of fuzzy hair,’ she said.

Linda’s goal is to spread awareness. She said: ‘There is help, it’s not all doom and gloom.

‘Some people survive to have a brilliant life after, with the help of your family and friends and the Wessex Cancer Trust will help you.’

Sofie Bennett, head of fundraising, said: ‘We rely on voluntary donations to fund these services, so Linda's dedication and kindness over so many years has made a huge difference to the lives of others.

‘We know she's very modest about her achievements, but we really do think she's a star.’

Bridgemary-based Linda insisted the events are a team effort, with help from friends and family including children Sarah, Matthew and Rachel.

Linda said: ‘Nothing’s more terrifying than being told you have cancer, that’s the word that everyone dreads. With cancer, nothing’s worse than being alone.

‘Thank you to everybody that’s supported, donated and helped in any way to make the events a success.’