Mother-of-three Jane Tomlinson from Rothwell, Leeds, has spent the last few years dedicating her life to charity by participating in various sporting events - a feat which is even more heroic when you consider that, back in 2000, the 40-year-old was diagnosed with cancer and given only a few months to live. Since then, she set herself the goal of raising a million pounds for healthcare charities and is now very close to reaching her target. In order to get to the long-awaited milestone, Jane is holding a massive charity event in Benidorm on Saturday August 28, which, with the help of the public, will help her achieve her life-long dream.
Ever since her shattering diagnosis, Jane’s determination and courage have astounded the nation. She has run in the London Marathon, the London Triathlon, the Great North Run, and the Gatorade 1/2 Ironman Triathlon and, as if all that wasn’t enough, has cycled on a tandem from Land’s End to John O’Groats before embarking on an incredible ‘Rome to Home’ ride with her brother and tandem partner, Luke Goward. This gruelling, five-week long trek - in which they literally cycled from the Italian capital back to Leeds - represented Jane’s toughest-ever challenge and attracted considerable media attention. Sky TV covered every mile of the journey and other major TV stations and newspapers took a profound interest in the events.
Since starting her courageous crusade, Jane has received numerous high-profile awards including Yorkshire Woman of Courage, the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and in 2002, was honoured in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony where she tearfully accepted the Helen Rollason Award. She was then presented with an MBE in 2003.
Paula Radcliffe, the World Marathon record holder has named the brave mum as the sportswoman who most inspires her and says, “Jane is remarkable. Her decision to ride the 2,500 miles from Rome to Leeds while suffering from terminal cancer is quite astonishing. It just underscores her qualities as a true champion of life”.
Support continues to come in from individual and corporate backers, but still more is needed to meet Jane’s target before she dies. She and her family have chosen four charities to benefit from the appeal - these include Hannah House, a care home in Rothwell, Leeds, less than a mile from where Jane and her family live, which provides accommodation and medical attention for children with complex health needs. Funds will also be donated to Macmillan Cancer Relief, which helps to ease the burden for people who are living with cancer. In the UK, over a million people endure the day-to-day struggle with the disease, and four in ten people will be diagnosed with it during their lifetime. Macmillan provides the practical and emotional support that will change the lives of people living with cancer today - and tomorrow. Another beneficiary of the money raised will be the Paediatric Acute Services at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust where Jane still works as a radiographer. The hospital has bought a travel incubator and six children's dialysis machines with their share of 2003's fundraising efforts. SPARKS (SPort Aiding medical Research for KidS) is a charity dedicated to medical research into conditions affecting babies and young children, and will also receive a chunk of Jane’s hard-won funds. Since 1991, SPARKS has committed £10 million to fund over 130 medical projects in hospitals and Universities throughout the UK.
Organisers of the event aim to create a 3km-long human chain of ‘piano keys’. If you would like to participate or be a bystander, please come to Playa de Levante in Benidorm at 5.50pm on Saturday 28 August. Those participating should be dressed in black or white. If you are unable to dress appropriately, you will be able to purchase a T-shirt provided by the organisers for a small fee. Please bring change for donations.
If you would like to donate direct to the appeal, please call 0044 845 1200 829 or visit Jane’s Appeal website on www.janesappeal.com