Colleagues of a cancer specialist, who was inspired by a teenager’s brave battle against the disease, have spent a year raising money to help other young people with the illness.
Dr David Cork previously worked at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research alongside the sister of Jessica Robson’s best friend.
Jessica, from Cramlington in Northumberland, had already been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer but with her family set up a charity – Jessica’s Sarcoma Awareness – and continued to support ill children and teenagers right up to the time of her death in 2014 at the age of just 18.
“What struck me was that they were trying to help people while they were going through the same thing themselves,” said David, who nominated Jessica’s Sarcoma Awareness as the charity of the year for his current employer, Sirius Market Access.
David and his colleagues at the Newcastle-based company have completed the Great North Run and the three day Hadrian’s Wall trek. They have held raffles and raised money through dress down days and have now presented a cheque of more than £9,000 to Jessica’s mum Julie. The money will help the charity fulfil a dream which, said Julie, stems from her daughter’s time in hospital.
“When she was having radiotherapy there was a six-year-old from Carlisle who was coming all the way to Newcastle for 30 seconds of treatment. Jess thought there had to be a way to help her,” she said.
The Robsons’ solution was to sell their house and buy land at Henshaw near Haltwhistle – 32 miles from Carlisle and 32 miles from Newcastle. They plan to build a lodge which will not only be a stopping off point, but also provide families with an environment where they can spend time together and create lifelong memories. They hope it will be ready by the Spring.
“Every penny raised by the fantastic people at Sirius will go towards this project. We are driven by our determination to continue the job started by Jess – and this is a big step,” said Julie.
Stephen Ralston, one of the company’s partners, said all of his team had contributed to the fund-raising. “I’m so proud of everyone. Of the seven people who took part in the Great North Run, only one had done so before. Walking Hadrian’s Wall was really tough. I’ve never seen rain like it and at times we all struggled – particularly David who had 17 blisters – but it was well worth it.
“Our inspiration was Jessica and her family and we are so pleased that we are helping them achieve their special dream.”
Sirius Market Access works with some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, providing expert analysis and evidence in support of new medicines and treatment.