On Mother’s Day, Leah describes how her mum will be her motivation at The MoonWalk London

I’m keen to raise money, awareness and celebrate my mum’s life - with all my best friends beside me.

“I signed up to do The MoonWalk in 2020 to mark the fact that it was twenty years since my mum, Vera, passed away from breast and lung cancer. Sadly, The MoonWalk was postponed that year due to the Pandemic so I am taking part this year.

Mum was only fifty-two when she died, she had found the lump quite quickly but sadly, the cancer had already spread. I was only eighteen and just off to university but I feel glad to have been with mum when she passed. It happened so quickly that sadly my two older brothers were unable to get home in time.

I just had just one counselling session at university to help me with my grief but now, universities have a much better support network for students dealing with bereavement or mental health issues of any kind. My friends and my Dad (who I am super close to) are the ones who got me through university. Moving away from home only a few months later was incredibly hard and probably one of my biggest challenges in life so far. It’s funny actually because I was meant to start uni in 1999 but I deferred because I didn’t feel ready. If I had gone, I wouldn’t have had that extra time with my mum, nor would I have been home with her when she passed. Quite serendipitous really. I also think, had I gone to uni and then come home after mum passed, I don’t think I would have gone back.

With my Mum and brother – making Mum have a picture taken

I wanted to mark this anniversary somehow and The MoonWalk seems like the perfect challenge. I’d had a dream that I signed up for a run, but I hate running! When I was laughing about it with my friend she said, “you love walking, why don’t you sign up for a walk?” I felt quite emotional when I found this challenge and decided this was it - it’s going to be incredible; I can’t wait. I’ve been excited about it since I signed up in 2020 – and that excitement hasn’t waned. All my spare time seems to be taken up with planning and sharing posts on social media and friends are the same.

I’ve got all my oldest friends together - those who knew my mum - to join in, and some of my wonderful new friends who continue to support me. I’m keen to raise money, awareness and celebrate my mum’s life - with all my best friends beside me. The mum of one of my friends has signed up to volunteer on the night too.

I truly feel that nothing will stop me; my mum will be my motivation. My friends might be a little nervous right now, but I think with the training that we are planning to do everyone will gain in confidence. We’re all really “in the zone” and we will be passing on hints and tips on our WhatsApp group and Instagram. Three of us work at UWE Bristol (University of the West of England, based in Bristol) and we do a walk around the Campus every day at lunchtime. Not only is it fun but it helps to build up our mileage too. I think if you train properly then when you arrive on the night you’ll be more likely to think “I can do this!” A few of us have started doing some long walks/hikes in preparation. A few 8-milers so far. Spending time outside and in the countryside is good for the soul and for our training.

With my Mum in the garden

Everyone who does the MoonWalk wears a themed, decorated bra – this year’s theme is Your Hero. We’re planning on holding a craft afternoon when we will all decorate our bras together. I’m not “crafty” myself but luckily some of my friends are.

As for fundraising, I’m excited to say I have already got over £1,000, which I’m thrilled about.  We’re all hosting bake sales at our workplaces and we’re launching a tuck shop in my office with all profits going to The MoonWalk fund. I’m also currently discussing some corporate sponsorship from clients I’ve worked with previously.

There will be a couple of surprises for my team as a little “thank you” from me for all their support.  I’m making up some “essentials” packs for everyone. So far, I have Vaseline, jellybeans, safety pins, plasters and a definite must-have (or so I’ve been told) a clean pair of socks to change into halfway round the route. The most special thing to me will be the necklace with a ‘V’ on for everyone to wear. A little bit of Mum with us on the walk”.

With my Mum on holiday in Greece in 1995

Thank you for sharing your story Leah and we look forward to seeing you and Team Vera at The MoonWalk London 2022!

Don't forget, our LIVE and Virtual MoonWalks are open for entries! Sign up here!



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