PICTURE GALLERY: A time to celebrate life at Great Yarmouth charity run

DESPITE the miserable weather there was high spirits as more than 220 people took part in the 20-hour long Great Yarmouth Relay for Life.

The inspirational overnight event at the weekend, at Caister High School, was raising thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.

The event began on Saturday with a lap of honour and celebration of life by 21 cancer survivors, ranging in age from 16 to over 60. Afterwards, as the marathon relay started, the survivors attended a special reception with the Mayor, Barry Coleman, in a marquee.

A special survivors’ cake was cut by Chris Bennison and Sharon Cutter, and the event launched by James Hadfield, head of the Genomics Core Facility at Cambridge Hospital.

Fourth time participant Tonie Ewles, 14, attends Caister High School and she said she was always happy to help.

“It’s just lovely,” she said. “It’s like I am able to give something back after everything I have been through.”

Tonie, who was diagnosed with soft-tissue cancer rhabdomyosarcoma at just 22 months, was joined by her family who had put on a raffle to help raise funds.

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Mum Terri Kemp said: “I’m extremely proud of her and she is very mature. She only had a 30pc chance to live, and we are very grateful she is here.”

Also walking the survivors’ lap was Julie Hanks, 54, from Gorleston. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, just six months after the death of her sister, Joanne, who died from the same disease aged 42.

She said: “Events like this are so important. For one thing, it raises awareness, and also it’s fund-raising and we want to find a cure.”

Beverley Sharman, 53, from Lowestoft was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and deep vein thrombosis a year ago. She said: “I had a hysterectomy and they also discovered I had cancer in my uterus. I then had further surgery to remove my cervix.

“It’s very emotional, but I feel privileged to have walked the survivors’ lap, and to be here with all the other wonderful people who have survived cancer; and I know together we will beat this thing.”

Jayne King, chairman of the organisers, said: “The weather didn’t put people off; everyone was very positive.”

Since 2008, the Great Yarmouth Relay has raised a mammoth �100,000 for Cancer Research UK, and Miss King was delighted the numbers taking part in the continuous event had swelled by around 70 people compared with last year.

She said: “The teams taking part have all worked very hard raising sponsorship.”

The organisers were looking to make the 2011 Great Yarmouth Relay even bigger, than before, with a target total of �44,000 – but it will be several weeks before the total cash amount is worked out.

Teams have raised money in a variety of ways from pub quizzes and car boot sales, to karaoke nights and variety shows.