The memory of a special Angus girl was with local runner Rhona Guild every step of the way from Dundee to St Andrews in an event which has raised thousands of pounds for a Tayside children’s cancer charity.
On what would have been Anna Jane Melrose’s 26th birthday, Rhona took on the 20-mile journey from the paediatric ward of Dundee’s Ninewells hospital to the Tayside and North East Fife Children with Cancer and Leukaemia (TCCL) Lodge in the Fife town.
Anna, from Kirriemuir, was just eight when she succumbed to a brave and selfless 15-month battle against a brain tumour in 2004.
The Northmuir Primary School youngster’s death had a profound effect on many in the Angus town.
Anna inspired others to support TCCL – founded in 1994 – by raising thousands of pounds during her own cancer fight.
Rhona said: “My daughter, Megan, was Anna’s best pal and our two families have a friendship going back many years.
“TCCL provides such a valuable support to families at their most difficult time.
“But like all charities, TCCL’s fundraising has been hit by the pandemic.”
In 2015, the charity opened TCCL Lodge in St Andrews, which offers short breaks to families affected by cancer.
After a coronavirus shutdown, the vital facility is now welcoming visitors again.
Rhona is well-known locally having recently retired from the role of primary care manager with Angus Health and Social Care Partnership.
She said she was determined to support TCCL after a challenging 18 months for the charity.
And although the 55-year-old is no stranger to long-distance fundraisers, the 20-mile Sunday Sparkle Run was a little more daunting than usual.
“In 2020 I popped a disc in my neck so I haven’t been doing a lot of running,” said Rhona.
“But I had a wonderful support team who were alongside me.
“My son, Alan, ran some of the way with me and I was also joined by Anna’s mum, Hazel.
“It was an emotional day for all of us, thinking about Anna on what would have been her birthday.
“But I’m delighted to have completed the run to raise funds to support TCCL’s work, particularly after such a challenging year for charities as a result of the pandemic,” she said.
£3,000 target broken
Rhona has already smashed through her fundraising target of £3,000.
Anyone wishing to support Rhona can donate to her Virgin Money Giving fundraising page.
“I’m grateful to everyone who has donated and my page will stay open for a few weeks to let people support this fabulous local charity.”