WHEN three friends met at high school they never thought their journey would bring them to a heartwrenching destination where one of their children would be battling cancer.
Claire Allman, Helen Anderton and Becky Atkins have grown UP together, supported each other, been bridesmaids at each other’s weddings and seen their children being born.
They share family holidays and treat each other’s families as their own.
But the devastating news that Helen’s 11-year-old son, Jude, has an aggressive form of bone cancer, is the biggest challenge the friends have ever faced. Now Helen’s best pals, Claire and Becky, are raising money for Jude by walking 42 miles – from Claire’s house in Pudsey, Leeds, to Helen’s in Urmston, Manchester.
Claire said: “We have always been there for each other in 30 years of friendship, but this has got to be the hardest thing any friends can ever go through.”
The trio met at St Mary’s Catholic High School in Menston, Leeds. Claire came from Pudsey, Helen from Guiseley and Becky from Otley.
And even though the miles increased when they went to university - Claire to Liverpool, Helen to Manchester and Becky to Birmingham - their relationship strengthened.
But the news that Jude, the eldest child of mother-of-four nurse Helen, 41, who is married to Paul, 47, was ill was a blow.
Jude, 11, who has siblings Finlay, 10, Noah, six, and Elyah, has been diagnosed with cancer. What was dismissed as growing pains turned out to be a rare and aggressive bone cancer called oestoe sarcoma.
Claire said: “He’s a great lad, full of enthusiasm and love of the outdoors. He loves the Scouts and can often be seen doing somersaults, It is hard to see him so unwell.”
Jude underwent an operation in Birmingham in March to remove the growth and some of the bone in his arm. It has been replaced with a titanium implant.
Now he needs chemotherapy. His digestive tract is sore and at times the only food he can eat is Quavers. Claire said: “Helen has not worked since March and her sick pay runs out this month so we are wanting to help the family financially.”
Their Journey 4 Jude will take 15 hours over two days.
Visit their appeal site www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/beckandclairewalkforjude.