A Budleigh Salterton woman and her family raised £2,700 for Hospiscare walking a marathon in a week in memory of her ‘wonderful’ husband.
Gill Harris teamed up with her children, grandchildren and family dogs to take on the hospice’s recent Marathon in a Month, in honour of her husband, Keith.
The family, who set walking routes across East Devon previously enjoyed by Gill and her husband, raised funds for Hospiscare as a way of thanking the charity for caring for Keith before he died.
Gill said the family chose a week to walk that coincided with the anniversary of Keith’s death – and his birthday.
She said: “Thanks to the Hospiscare at Home team, Keith was able to spend his birthday at home, surrounded by his family. He played his guitar and enjoyed his favourite meal.
“We wanted to honour Keith and it just seemed right to do something positive out of something so devastating.
“As a family, we are still unable to truly comprehend the loss of a man who was the most wonderful husband, father, grandad and friend.
“Keith was a truly brilliant person, full of love, kindness and wisdom. He was endlessly supportive of his family, friends and the local community. We will always, always miss him.”
She added: “Everyone at Hospiscare was so caring. The care that Keith had was over and above. Hospiscare supported us so completely – not just during that awful time when Keith was ill, but afterwards too with phone calls from their supportive care service.
“We are just so grateful. What was an absolutely horrific time for our family was made as good as it possibly could. Hospiscare couldn’t have done anything more.”
The nine-strong family team reunited in Devon in a bid to give back to the charity that had helped the family when Keith needed specialist care.
A Hospiscare spokeswoman said: “For the Harris family, the fundraising event was an opportunity for something positive to come from a personal tragedy.
“By signing up for the challenge, Gill and her family were able to give something back to the hospice nurses and staff who cared for Keith at his home and at the hospice’s specialist ward in Exeter.
“Travelling across the country from Leicester, Birmingham and London, Gill’s children and grandchildren reunited at the family home in East Devon.
“Although Hospiscare’s Marathon in a Month event allowed 31 days to complete the challenge, Gill’s family completed their miles in just one week as a special dedication to Keith.”
Gill made sure Keith was there every step of the way by planning routes in Budleigh Salterton and East Devon that held special memories of walking with her husband, and spending time with family when their children were young.
Gill and her family were part of a community of 105 Marathon in a Month heroes who walked, jogged, ran and – in some cases – rolled 26.2 miles in October to support the work of the local charity.
Marathon in a Month was also generously sponsored by local solicitors, Kitsons, who were behind the challenge at every turn, Hospiscare said.
The Hospiscare spokeswoman said: “By going the distance for end-of-life care, Marathon in a Month’s participants raised over £20,000 and together, the Harris team raised £2,700 to support the vital work of Hospiscare.
“The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the charity, leaving it facing an income deficit of over £1.5 million. Support from events like Marathon in a Month is crucial to the future of the charity, ensuring it can be there for families like Keith’s.”