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Cyclist takes on 1,000km challenge to raise money for hospice that cared for cousin

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 September 2020

Neil Doherty cycled 1,000km to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Neil Doherty cycled 1,000km to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Saint Francis Hospice

A cyclist has pedalled 1,000km to raise money for the hospice that cared for his cousin.

Shirley Jones, from Dagenham, who died in May after a four year battle with cancer. Picture: Saint Francis HospiceShirley Jones, from Dagenham, who died in May after a four year battle with cancer. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Neil Doherty raised £2,000 for Saint Francis Hospice to show his gratitude for the care it gave to Shirley Jones, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year aged 60.

Shirley, from Dagenham, was first diagnosed four years ago but despite the chemotherapy initially working, it returned to her lymph nodes.

In 2019, she received the news it had spread to her lungs and this time was inoperable and terminal.

“She was a kind and caring person who always put other people first,” Neil said.

“I knew I had to do something to say thank you to Saint Francis Hospice for taking such wonderful care of my cousin.”

So Neil hopped on his bike, and was able to fulfil his target of cycling the total of 1,000km throughout the month of June.

“The cycle was the least I could do,” he said.

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“The hospice relies on everyone out there to find the £23,000 a day it needs to survive.

“So many of the hospice’s events have been cancelled, but the patients who need the hospice’s care are still there”.

Former Nato and charity worker Shirley became an inpatient at the Havering-atte-Bower hospice in May, near the height of the coronavirus pandemic - with many of her loved ones, including Neil, unable to attend her funeral due to social distancing measures.

“Because of the pandemic, Shirley’s chemo was cancelled,” her brother Mervyn explained, adding that he and his wife would regularly make the 400-mile round trip from their home in Shropshire to provide support.

“She was at home, in pain, and not getting any clinical care.

“We had no experience of looking after someone with a critical illness and made it up as we went along.

“Saint Francis Hospice stepped in to fill that void, which is what we desperately needed.”

Mervyn added: “The conversations about Shirley’s care were friendly rather than clinical.

“We felt as though the hospice put its arm around us and said: ‘Don’t worry; she’s with us now’.

“I could go back to being her brother again rather than her carer.”


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