Brothers inspired by brave Lisa to take on personal milestones for hospice
A dad-of-three who took up running to help him cope during his beloved wife’s illness has taken on a 13-mile challenge in her memory.
And his brother has also showed his support for the hospice which cared for her, by launching an ‘Epic Adventure’ – starting in Wales where the family loved to visit.
Ben and Matthew Gilkes have undertaken two separate challenges in memory of Ben’s wife Lisa, who lost her battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in April 2015, aged 36.
She was admitted to St Catherine’s Hospice and as a nurse herself, Lisa was extremely thankful for the wonderful care she received during her final three months.
Ben made a promise that the family would continue to support the charity, and his brother Matthew has also been inspired to get involved.
Ben, who has just pounded the streets from Newcastle to South Shields for the Great North Run, said: “When Lisa was first diagnosed she encouraged me to take up running as a way of dealing with some of the stress caused by having to watch your wife and the mother of your children bravely coping with a terminal illness, knowing that there is nothing you can do to stop her pain and make her better.”
He began running in between dropping off and picking up their children Ned, 11, Tom, eight, and seven-year-old Alice from their various after-school activities.
Ben, 43, added: “I will never be able to thank all the caring and dedicated staff at St Catherine’s enough, not only for the nursing care given to Lisa but also for the support they have provided me and our children.
“Lisa was adamant that as a family we should continue to support the hospice in any way we can, so lacing up my trainers seemed like a fitting way to raise vital funds for St Catherine’s.”
A week later, his brother Matthew entered the sea at Tenby along with 2,000 other competitors in the Ironman Wales challenge, to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and run a marathon – all in under 17 hours.
For Matthew, Ironman Wales was merely the start of what he has called ‘The Epic Adventure – Tenby to Tower’. Rather than driving home the day after Ironman Wales, Matthew cycled 150 miles to Snowdon; climbed Mount Snowdon before getting back on the bike again to ride 110 miles to St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall; then changed into his trainers to run 25 miles to finish at Blackpool Tower.
Matthew previously completed Ironman UK in 2014 and despite saying ‘never again’, made a promise to Lisa to continue his fundraising efforts.
“Lisa was proud to be Welsh and would regularly holiday with Ben and their children in Tenby,” Matthew explained. “So to take part in a race in a place that gave them lots of happy memories made it an easy decision.
“I spoke with Lisa about my plans for ‘The Epic Adventure’ and whilst she thought I was mad, she was also touched that sponsorship would be raised in her memory to benefit other patients and their families at St Catherine’s.
“I also talked my two friends, Scott Ross and Dom Roe, into joining me.”
Dom also had his own special reasons for undertaking ‘The Epic Adventure’; as a way of remembering and raising money in tribute of his former English teacher from Cardinal Allen High School, Jeff Emmett.
Dom said: “Jeff was a wonderful and inspiring teacher and in later life I was lucky enough to know him as a friend.”
St Catherine’s fundraiser Emma Jacovelli said: “What amazing feats of endurance Ben and Matthew have taken on; I’m very impressed and humbled that they’re going to such lengths to support the hospice.
“As Ben said, the charity is here not just to care for patients, but to also offer emotional support to families and loved ones, and we are only able to provide our specialist care to local people thanks to the dedication and commitment of our wonderful supporters like the Gilkes brothers and their friends.
“Thank you to everyone who has sponsored them, and well done boys!”
They have so far generated almost £2,500 for the cause. To sponsor the Gilkes brothers and their friends, click here.
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