Hundreds unite for Cancer Connections Faith Hope and Love charity relay walk

The Cancer Connections annual Faith Hope and Love relay walk celebrated its biggest turn out yet, as cancer survivors and their families came together to support the charity.

The 24 hour charity event kicked off today at Bents Park in South Shields with its emotional Braveheart lap made up of cancer survivors.

The cancer Connections relay saw Norma Thirlwall, the mum of Little Mixs Jade and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig MBE take part once again.

The cancer Connections relay saw Norma Thirlwall, the mum of Little Mixs Jade and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig MBE take part once again.

Participants from various teams will walk continuous laps around the park and camp overnight, to raise vital funds for the service which supports those diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Deborah Roberts, co-founder of the charity based in Harton Lane in South Shields, said it was the biggest relay to date, with participants including Norma Thirlwall, the mum of Little Mix’s Jade and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig MBE.

She said: “The turn out is even bigger than last year.

“Last year we raised £17,000 for the charity, so we are hoping to beat that this year.

Hundreds took part in the relay at Bents Park.

Hundreds took part in the relay at Bents Park.

“The charity is run by volunteers and we have had a lot of support form the community.

“I want to thank everyone for coming, the teams taking part and local businesses for coming and showing their support.

“It just amazes me the amount of people who really put themselves out their to support what we do.

“We are so grateful and couldn’t do it without them as the charity relies on donations and fundraising.”

Norma Thirlwall, the mum of Little Mixs Jade represented her daughter at the event.

Norma Thirlwall, the mum of Little Mixs Jade represented her daughter at the event.

At the event participants were able to enjoy holding birds of prey courtesy of DLS Falconry, have a go on the climbing wall from South Tyneside Youth Project and enjoy performances from South Tyneside Academy of Musical Performance (STAMP).

Norma Thirlwall, whose daughter Jade Thirlwall is patron of the charity, was also taking part in the relay on Jade’s behalf.

She said the charity was once close to their hearts after their Aunt Norma Embleton sadly died from pancreatic cancer.

“This is the second one I have taken part in and my grandson Karl Thirlwall, who is five, is joining me,” she said.

The Faith Hope and Love charity relay walk in Bents Park, South Shields on Saturday.

The Faith Hope and Love charity relay walk in Bents Park, South Shields on Saturday.

“Jade is really pleased I am representing her at the event and she wishes that she could be here.

“Cancer Connections is a charity that is really close to our hearts.

“We have supported Cancer Connections for years and years, but after losing Norma it made us realise just how important raising funds for the charity is.”