The family of the late Jane Tomlinson CBE have announced that the charity that stands as her legacy has raised more than £10m.
The amazing milestone comes just ahead of the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of the inspirational amateur athlete, fundraiser, wife and mother-of-three, who died aged just 43.
Jane, from Leeds, passed away on 3rd September 2007, almost seven years after being told she had just months to live.
Jane became a familiar figure worldwide when, despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer, she took on a series of seemingly-impossible endeavours.
Her challenges – many undertaken while receiving extremely harsh chemotherapy treatments and while in severe pain – included a Rome to Home cycle ride, the New York and London Marathons, an ironman, and her final adventure, a 4,200-mile ride across the USA.
Before her death Jane raised a remarkable £1.8m for charity. Since then, with the support of thousands of fundraisers and through the Jane Tomlinson Run For All series of sporting events, the total raised in Jane’s name now stands at over £10m.
Jane’s widower Mike said today: “I would hope Jane would be happy with what has now been achieved.
“She raised a lot of money during her lifetime, but for everything that she went through, for all of her efforts and everything she endured, it never really seemed enough to me.
“She did a TV interview not long before she died and the interviewer asked her if it had all been worth it. At the time she said ‘no’.
“If she was still here, I’d like to think she would now say ‘yes’.”
The incredible fundraising total has seen scores of good causes, from children’s hospices to cancer support centres, receive vital grants to continue their good works – or establish new projects and services.
It has also seen the launch of a ground-breaking research project which it is hoped might help improve the lives of thousands of cancer patients.
Funds provided by the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, are enabling scientists at Leeds Beckett University to examine whether a sports medicine technique (Kinesiology taping – the sort of strapping used by professional athletes) can reduce the pain and discomfort suffered by cancer patients.
Jane received the treatment in the last months of her life and it was her wish to see whether it could benefit others.
Jane’s remarkable journey began in August 2000 when, aged just 36, she was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. The cancer had returned, with Jane first being diagnosed with the disease 10 years previously.
Over the next seven years she captured the attention of the world through her achievements as she outlived her initial six months’ life expectancy. She was determined to show that people with incurable cancer could still lead active and fulfilling lives.
With her health declining, her cross-USA ride in 2006 was to become her last challenge. However, the funds raised paved the way for the establishment of the first Leeds 10K charity road race. As well as raising funds for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, the event was designed to become a lasting fundraising mechanism for countless other good causes.
That one event has now grown into an events series, comprising ten 10Ks, two half marathons, a marathon, a 10 mile run and a series of junior and family runs, through which Jane’s charity and its event partner charities have now raised more than £10m.
Mike said: “We honestly never expected the Leeds 10K to be the success it was. When it was clear there was an appetite for it, I knew I wanted to do more events.
“Jane and the charity’s trustees didn’t want it; it was a lot of work. But I knew that we could raise a lot more money than we had. Jane was all about the challenges – it was my job to get the money in.
“For us, it was never about creating a legacy for Jane. It was ensuring that the fundraising could go on; the charities that she had supported, and many more, still needed us.”
After Jane died, Mike campaigned for an end to the health postcode lottery that saw Jane have to travel to Nottingham for pioneering cancer treatment that was not available in Leeds.
“We received a lot of platitudes from politicians, but it soon became apparent that there was no real will or intention to do anything about this injustice,” he said. “So we decided, instead, that we would concentrate our efforts on what we could achieve – raising money for charity.”
The last 15 years have presented many highs – and inevitable lows – for Mike and the couple’s children, Suzanne, Rebecca and Steven.
“The last few weeks of Jane’s life and, obviously her death, are the absolute lowest points,” he said.
“The high points were watching Jane finishing the Florida Ironman. It was just inconceivable that this woman, who had been given months to live, who had never really done any sport, four years later, was doing this. It seems completely fanciful – and it was.
“The ride across America was incredible. Jane was struggling just to stay alive, never mind cycle over 4,000 miles; I will never know how she did that.
“And, the look on Jane’s face when she saw her mum cross the finish line of the Leeds 10K in 2007; it was the culmination of five years’ of hard work and I’ll never forget that.”
Despite all Jane achieved – and all that’s been accomplished since – Mike still doesn’t acknowledge a sense of pride.
He said: “None of this would have been possible without the support of lots and lots of people. Without them it would not have happened. So, no, I’m not proud; I’m just incredibly grateful.”
For more information on the Jane Tomlinson Appeal go to http://www.janetomlinsonappeal.com/
For details on the events staged by Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All go to /