WHEN the family of Jane Tomlinson set themselves the target of raising £5m for the appeal named in her memory, they knew it was an ambitious target.
But six years on the Jane Tomlinson Appeal has exceeded this target to a hugely impressive £7.6m, an endeavour typical of the woman who was no stranger to confounded expectation.
And, typically, the family and their supporters are in no mood to rest on their laurels and are pledging to continue their efforts in memory of Jane, who died from cancer aged 43 in 2007.
Suzanne Tomlinson said: “I think it is just amazing that we have reached this figure in such a short space of time.
“It is a huge amount that it is possible to do so much with.
“We can help so many people who need support, whether that is dealing with an illness, a family member who is not well, or someone going through a bereavement.
“The goodwill and the kindness of people will never fail to amaze me. I do not think any of the family thought we would be here, having raised more than £7m.
“I think Mum would have been amazed and so pleased that all her hard work and determination has made such an impact in so many different ways.
“I think she would just have had such a big grin on her face if she knew – I think she would find it hard to believe.
“We owe such a big thank you to everyone who has helped over the years – we are just so appreciative of everything everyone has done.”
Jane Tomlinson, a hospital radiographer from Rothwell in Leeds, won the hearts of millions worldwide as she personally raised £1.8m while battling terminal cancer.
She conquered a string of gruelling endurance challenges, including a 4,200-mile bike ride across America as well as numerous marathons and other running events.
Perhaps the highlight came when she and her brother cycled from Rome to Leeds, culminating in a triumphant return to the city centre watched by thousands of well-wishers and spectators.
Then, just three months before her death, Jane and her family staged the inaugural Leeds 10K race.
It attracted 8,000 entrants and proved to be the start of an annual fundraising tradition which attracts runners from all over the country.
Further events in Leeds and beyond were organised, each of them continuing to raise money for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and its partner charities as a lasting tribute to the much-missed mum.
A dedicated company called Run For All was set up to look after the races and this year it will be responsible for 10Ks in Leeds, York, Hull, Burnley and Lincoln, half marathons in Leeds and Sheffield and the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon.
“It is hugely important to all of us that the work Mum started is continuing today and we hope her legacy will carry on for many years to come,” said Rebecca Tomlinson.
“When we first set up the appeal we could never have imagined how successful it would become and just how much it would raise.
“We would like to thank each and every person and organisation who has helped us along the way, whether that was through fundraising, through helping at the events, taking on individual challenges or supporting us in another way.”
She was awarded a CBE in June 2007 and died in St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds less than three months later.
Charities added their voices to praise for the fundraising achievements of the Tomlinson family.
From St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds to the British Red Cross, scores of organisations and groups have received donations over the years from the appeal set up in Jane’s name.
Beneficiaries yesterday described how important the support has been for them, following the announcement that the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and its partner charities have now raised more than £7.5m.
Noemie Salvaudon, from Leeds-based children’s cancer charity Candlelighters, said its partnership with the appeal had raised nearly £120,000 since 2012.
She went on: “With 150 children newly diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia every year, these funds have helped us fund staff and research, provide grants and holidays, and organise activities for children, their siblings and their parents, on the ward, on clinic and away from the hospital.”
Leeds Mencap’s Fahad Khan said: “In 2012 they kindly donated £10,000 for our youth clubs which meant we could continue providing this service to children and young adults from the ages of nine to 25 years with services that they regard as a lifeline and parents regard as a crucial respite.
Liz Barran, head of fundraising for the Haven breast cancer support centre in Yorkshire, said: “Over the years the Leeds 10K has enabled The Haven to continue to provide, completely free of charge, a wide range of therapies which help people to deal with the physical and emotional side-effects of breast cancer.” Sarah Atkinson, from St Leonard’s Hospice in York, said: “Since the first York 10K in 2009 the runners for St Leonard’s Hospice have raised thousands of pounds – a great contribution to the £4m we need to find each year to continue to care for local people with life-threatening illnesses and for their families.”
Macmillan Cancer Support’s Craig Fordham said: “Macmillan is enormously proud, honoured and grateful to Jane’s appeal for their wonderful support of our work.”