RACE FOR LIFE: Preston gran to run in memory of loved ones

Janette Ellwood'Race for Life
Janette Ellwood'Race for Life
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  • Janette lost her brother to a brain tumour in 1998
  • Her cousin Anne died from lung cancer two years ago
  • janette says Race for Life is an opportunity for her to remember
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A retired school nurse will take part in this month’s Race for Life in memory of her brother and cousin.

Janette Ellwood, of Longton, Preston, lost her brother Peter Stirzaker to a brain tumour in 1998 and her cousin Anne Collis died from lung cancer two years ago.

Race for Life

Race for Life

She says Race for Life is an opportunity to remember her loved ones by doing something fun that they’d approve of and gets her up and active.

The former school nurse completed her first 5K Race for Life last year at the age of 66 and hopes to encourage other nans and over 60s to join her at Moor Park on Sunday May 24 at 11am to walk or jog the course.

She said: “I did my first Race for Life last year and really enjoyed it. 
“I’m fairly active with my grandkids and I’ve done cycling events to raise money in the past with the Scouts when the children were younger but this was my first Race for Life. It was good fun. I’d recommend it to young and older ladies.”

Janette’s older brother and only sibling Peter emigrated to Australia in 1970 as part of the £10 passage assisted migration scheme that operated after the Second World War. But the siblings kept in touch with regular phone calls and it was Janette who first took Peter to the doctors leading to his cancer diagnosis.

I’m fairly active with my grandkids and I’ve done cycling events to raise money in the past with the Scouts when the children were younger but this was my first Race for Life.

Janette Ellwood

She said: “Peter was a bit of a rogue and quite a colourful character. He was an aircraft electrician but he also once skippered a yacht and did all kinds of jobs. He lived his life to the full, led a very full life and enjoyed it.

“But he had eventually settled down out there and turned his life around and had a three-year-old son – who I keep in touch with. It was before I had email or a computer so we used to call each other mostly. I’d have to stay up until 2am because of the time difference and then he’d ring me and say “Good-day!” and I’d remind him that for me it was the middle of the night!

“I went out to visit him in Australia in 1997 and 1998 he came back and visited us too.

“When I visited in 1997 his wife was a bit concerned about some changes she’d noticed in Peter and asked me to take him to the doctors. While Peter was out of the room I made the doctor promise he’d send Peter for a CT scan.

Janette Ellwood and her late brother Peter in 1992

Janette Ellwood and her late brother Peter in 1992

“The scan happened when I was back in England and he phoned me and told me he had a brain tumour.”

Peter, who lived in Cairns, had an operation but passed away in July 1998 aged 54.

Janette said: “I still think of him every day and when I was doing Race for Life I was thinking about him and my cousin.”

Janette’s cousin Anne Collis grew up with her and she describes them as being “practically sisters”.

Anne, who was Manager and Artistic Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, died in October 2013 of lung cancer.

Janette said: “She lived in London but we kept in touch.

“She’d worked with Russell Watson and Katherine Jenkins and was a tremendous person. Three weeks before she died she performed on the Queen Mary 2. She was terminally ill but wanted to pack everything she could in.

“Her daughter got married just before Anne died too.

“I like to think they’d be proud of me doing Race for Life to support Cancer Research UK. If there’s anyone in Preston who is wavering I’d say get on with signing up. We need so many people to raise the money and go round with their sponsorship forms so if you can’t run – please get your hands in your pockets and dig deep!”

To enter Race for Life today go to raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.

Are you taking part in Race for Life? Share your stories with Laura Wild, email laura.wild@lep.co.uk