Granddaughter steps out for Leeds starlight walk in memory of her grandparents

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A loving granddaughter is raising money in memory of her separated grandparents, who both passed away due to cancer within months of each other.

Divorced Leeds couple Lillian and Tommy Walton, who had not been in touch with each other for 26 years, were both diagnosed with lung cancer last September and passed away three months later.

Their granddaughter Gemma Hodgson, 29, who is from Pudsey, now plans to raise money for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in their honour by taking part in the Starlight Hike 10k walk through Temple Newsam on September 27.

The hospice cared for Lillian in the weeks before she died.

Gemma, her brother Adrian and mum Lynne spent countless days travelling to Lillian and Tommy’s respective homes as they tried to cope with their illnesses.

Gemma said the family hopes that in death the couple are no longer apart.

“My mum says they couldn’t live together on earth, but she would like to think they are together now,” Gemma said.

She added: “It was a really difficult time for all of us.

“But everything happened so quickly, it was like a hazy roller coaster ride.

“My mum and I looked at each other and said, ‘How did this happen?’”

Her granddad died in November 2013 after being admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties.

Lillian spent six weeks at Wheatfields before she died in December, prompting Gemma to start fundraising.

Gemma said: “On the day we left Wheatfields after grandma died, I knew it wasn’t going to be the last time I had anything to do with the hospice –I knew I had to give something back.”

The Starlight Hike is open to all and is hoped to raise £30,000 to go towards the Wheatfield’s £4.8million costs in caring for people with incurable illnesses.

The event opens at 8.30pm for a warm up and entertainment before the walk runs from 10pm to midnight.

Participants follow a safe marshalled route around the grounds of Temple Newsam, which includes the Starlight Avenue, dedicated to Sue Ryder patients who have received the hospice’s care.

Crossing the finish line, walkers will be rewarded with a hot butty and goody bag.

Entry is £15 for adults or free for under 16s.

Visit www.sueryder.org/StarlightHike to register

To ask any further questions about the Starlight Hike, or to your local fundraising team, contact Georgina Abbott on georgina.abbott@sueryder.org

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