Worthing woman walks a marathon for hospice caring for her sister

Lyn Wilson, who lives in Worthing, has supported St Barnabas House for many years and is a familiar face at hospice events.

“I first got to know St Barnabas about 34 years ago, when my mum was given a terminal cancer diagnosis and we went to visit the old site in Columbia Drive”, says Lyn.  “In the end, Mum passed away at home, but it made a difference knowing that support was there.  She was only 52, and of course it was heartbreaking losing our mum at such a young age”.

“I suppose focusing on fundraising was a way of helping me with my grief, and St Barnabas was a worthy charity to do it for.” For many years, Lyn raised money by doing the Race for Life at Stanmer Park in Brighton, then later in Worthing, but in 2016, when her daughter, Jodie Kovacs, suggested they complete the marathon-length South Downs Trek together, she was up for the challenge.  

“We did it in memory of Jodie’s nan, and my mum,” says Lyn.  If you’re going to ask people to sponsor you, it’s got to be something that’s difficult for you and it was, both physically and mentally.  However, it was an amazing experience – arriving at the finish line at St Barnabas and knowing why you did it was quite emotional.”

This year’s event has deep personal resonance because Lyn’s sister, Janet, is currently in St Barnabas’ care.  “Since Jan’s diagnosis of inoperable, terminal pancreatic cancer I’ve seen the hospice’s care in action first-hand,” says Lyn. “Initially, she had care in her own home and later went into the hospice for pain management.

“I just can’t praise the hospice enough. They’ve been there not just for Jan, but for the whole family. They are such special people and we’re very lucky to have them.

“I think it’s so important that we all support our local hospice. Jan has even sponsored me herself with a message thanking St Barnabas for what they have already done for her. When I created my JustGiving page, I wrote that I hoped Jan could be there at the finishing line and perhaps even cross it with us. Back then, I wasn’t at all sure that would happen. Now, as we get nearer to the date of the trek, I believe it will. Whatever happens, it’s going to be another emotional moment.”

“That’s why the support from St Barnabas is so important. This is a very difficult journey: in some ways it is similar to what we went through with my mum, but this is a very different cancer and it’s so hard to see Jan suffering.”

 Although she will be walking with her daughter on the day, Lyn has been doing much of her training alone – or with Jodie’s dog, Scooby, a newly qualified Pets as Therapy dog who will join the pair for part of South Downs Trek. “He came to visit Jan at St Barnabas House and all the staff just fell in love with him,” she says.

“When I am walking, I enjoy the beauty and the solitude, but it’s been lovely to have a companion to share it with. Scooby is always checking to make sure I’m keeping up or waiting until I do, and I’m happy to do the same for him when we’re homeward bound.”

“Walking does wonders for me.” says Lyn. “I go out walking as much as I can, and now I often add a stop at Jan’s house in Lancing to the route. It’s part of my training at the moment but walking really helps mentally and emotionally, especially when I’m on the South Downs.”

In addition to her South Downs Trek fundraising, which has now reached more than £3,500, Lyn is organising a mass participation dance fitness class at Worthing Leisure Centre on 19 September from 5-6pm. It’s open to members and non-members and all money raised will go directly to St Barnabas House.

Help Lyn's fundraising

To support Lyn or see updates on her fundraising journey, visit her JustGiving page.

Support Lyn