Sisters aged eight and nine in Leeds Bubble Rush hospice 5k after dad's cancer death

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TWO young Leeds sisters  whose father died of cancer five months ago were among hundreds of hospice supporters who took part in the Leeds Bubble Rush 5k fun run.

The St Gemma's Hospice fundraising run at Harewood House on Saturday (April 27) saw runners wading through 4ft walls of bubbles blown out by high-powered foam cannons.

Joanne Stephenson pictured with daughters Rosie (leftt) and Lily.

Joanne Stephenson pictured with daughters Rosie (leftt) and Lily.

Among runners was Joanne Stephenson, of Middleton and her daughters Lily aged nine and Rosie, eight.

Mrs Stephenson's husband Paul died aged 47 on November 30 2018, five years after he was diagnosed with skin cancer melanoma.

Mrs Stephenson said her husband died at Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley and staff at St Gemma's Hospice in Moortown are supporting Lily and Rosie at regular events where they can talk about their feelings.

The children have also been invited to children's activity days at St Gemma's where they can mix with other youngsters who have lost loved ones.

Paul Stephenson

Paul Stephenson

Mrs Stephenson said staff at Wheatfields are continuing to support her, adding: "There is somebody there for me to talk to. Until you have gone through a loss you don't know all these new situations they throw at you. It is just nice to get reassurance sometimes that you are doing the right thing."

Mrs Stephenson was full of praise for the "amazing" care her husband received.

She said: "It made me realise that hospices aren't scary places , and the kids realise that as well. They knew that Paul was going to die and we brought Christmas forward.

"The family support worker at Wheatfields provided canvases and paint so we could do hand printing to make memories."

Liz and Neil Hickson pictured with daughters  Azalea (left) and Aaliyah.

Liz and Neil Hickson pictured with daughters Azalea (left) and Aaliyah.

Paying tribute to her husband, who worked as an auditor in the security industry, Mrs Stephenson, said: "He was a character, he was so funny. He would walk into a room and you would know he was there."

Mrs Stephenson said Lily and Rosie have raised more than £2,000 for charities including Cancer Research UK and Candlelighters in the past two years.

Also taking part in the Leeds Bubble Rush 5K were Liz and Neil Hickson of Alwoodley and their daughters Aaliyah, aged two, and four-year-old Azalea.

Teaching assistant Mrs Hickson, said: "We wanted to support the hospice and take part in a fun family fun event in the local area.

Emma Asprey with her daughter Ava

Emma Asprey with her daughter Ava

"It is really exciting going through the bubble stations - the kids had a great time and it was fun to do it together."

Seven mums with children at Allerton Bywater Primary School were running to support St Gemma's after one of the mums' mothers was cared for at St Gemma's.

Emma Asprey of Allerton Bywater, who ran with her five-year-old daughter Ava, said: "It was Ava's first ever charity run and it was been great fun running through the bubbles. It's a fantastic event."

Leeds Children's Hospital nurse Stella Johnson,of Yeadon, who ran with her six-year-old son Owen, said: "We have had family members who have died of cancer and we believe strongly in hospices."

To donate to St Gemma's Hospice, go to /www.st-gemma.co.uk/onlinedonation