Portsmouth Relay For Life for Cancer Research UK returns to celebrate its 25th year
THE longest running Relay For Life for Cancer Research UK returned to celebrate its 25th year in Portsmouth as hundreds took part in a 24-hour relay at an emotional event.
More than 250 people in 15 teams are maintaining the continuous relay around the St John's College Playing Fields in Farlington as part of the fundraising event for the cancer charity.
Despite the pandemic scuppering the event’s usual July date and attendees facing a wet September weekend, dozens of cancer survivors turned out to cheer on friends, family, and committed fundraisers as they began the challenge on Saturday morning.
Portsmouth Relay For Life events chairwoman Jayne Bowater said the event had already raised an ‘amazing’ amount given the disruption of the last 18 months.
She said: ‘Today, we have raised £40,000. Normally, we raised about £100,000. I think to raise what we have given the pandemic is amazing.
‘With the pandemic, it has (paused some) clinical trials, people have not been going to their GP – it’s been a real crisis. It’s going to have a big impact down the line.’
Among those cheering on relay participants was Gosport resident Angela Newnham, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1999 while her father, Dave Stratton, battled pancrectic cancer.
The pair had hoped to take part in one of the first Relay For Life events held in Portsmouth in 2001 – but Angela had to face the event alone after her father died the year before aged 60.
Angela said: ‘I have suffered from mental health issues after the cancer and my dad died – and I didn’t come to any Relays for Life for a few years.
‘It was a big thing to come to this. I was welling up coming in. It’s been an emotional day.’
Taking part for his third year was North End bricklayer Josh Vorakhan, who was inspired to take part after his grandmother beat breast cancer five years ago.
The 21-year-old said: ‘It’s just a brilliant event. We’ve raised about £1,000.’
Josh has been racing as part of the Pompey Pub Crawlers, a team that has been fundraising by visiting pubs across the city.
The event will see attendees gather to light candles in memory of those who have died from cancer at 8pm tonight.
The Relay For Life will finish its 24-hour challenge at 11am on Sunday.