FROM collecting pennies in local pubs to organising extravagant balls that raised thousands of pounds, Jenny Moss has done it all.
For the past 25 years the retired teacher from Ripon has dedicated a huge part of her life to raising money for Yorkshire Cancer Research. It’s a career that has seen her invited to Buckingham Palace for a garden party with the Queen, but after facing breast cancer herself for a third time she has decided to stand down.
“I haven’t been able to help the committee since March when I was diagnosed, so I thought that perhaps now is the time to let somebody else take over,” says the 72-year-old. “Although I will remain on the committee and I’ve offered to organise the next ball.” Jenny joined the charity’s Ripon Voluntary Fundraising Committee back in 1987, a year after her husband Colin died from cancer. Colin had undergone treatment for testicular cancer for three years, but it spread to other parts of his body and he passed away at the age of 50. They had been married for 23 years.
Before Colin died, Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time, and at one point the couple were both travelling to the former Cookridge Hospital in Leeds for treatment. Jenny, who has a son, Owen, and a daughter, Helen, said: “I was very depressed after Colin died and a colleague at Moorside School, where I taught, suggested that I join the committee. My experience with cancer really did push me and kept me going when it came to fundraising. You feel that it’s the most important thing you can do.”
As well as working full time, Jenny would spend hours organising events and looking for sponsorship to cover costs. Early fundraisers included cookery and flower arranging demonstrations, fashion shows and market stalls, but the committee eventually progressed to balls, ceilidhs and jazz picnics. Since Jenny joined in 1987, the committee has raised more than £400,000, and if legacies given to the charity from people living in the area are added the total comes to £867,983.
“We got to a stage when we decided it would be better to organise fewer events but make them bigger ones. Our former president, Dr Derek Jeary, always said everything has got to be fun, you can’t think of it as a hard task. I remember how cheeky I used to be, going round shops and offices asking for sponsorship. I always thought that they could only say no. These days it’s harder to raise money. You get less from people. I think it’s the result of the credit crunch and an increase in the number of charities combined. It’s got a lot harder since 2009.”
Jenny still experiences discomfort following her operation in April, but she’s already got back into walking – one of her favourite pastimes – and she’s looking forward to spending more time in her garden and with her four grandchildren.
She is also looking forward to travelling the world.
“I feel a lot of tightness in my chest and that might always be there, but I’ve just got used to it. You’ve got to learn to live with these things, you can’t complain.
“When I hear people ask if we will ever find a cure for cancer, I want to tell them that we are finding cures all the time. I would not be here if they hadn’t found some sort of cure. Things have changed so much for the good now, as long as people do something about their symptoms straight away.”