Emotional day at South Shields Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 Hour Relay

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It was the biggest ever turn out at the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love Relay which saw cancer survivors and their families take part in the 24 hour charity event.

Held at Bents Park, South Shields, the relay kicked off at 11am with its Braveheart lap – made up of cancer survivors.

Participants from various teams will walk continuous laps around the park for the next 24 hours and camp overnight, to raise vital funds for the service which supports those diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Co-founder of the charity based in Harton Lane, South Shields, Deborah Roberts, said it was the biggest relay to date, with participants including Norma Thirlwall, the mum of Little Mix's Jade and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig MBE.

"It is the biggest and best relay we have done so far, with the most teams we have ever had taking part this year" she said.

"We raise around £20,000 each year off team sponsorship from the event which goes to the cost of paying for the services we provide.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

"The Braveheart lap was so emotional, as everybody is here for a reason."

The event was sponsored by The Barbour Foundation, Biffa Waste Management, South Tyneside Homes, South Tyneside Council, Northumbrian Water, and STAMP.

Every year, Cancer Connections has to raise £180,000 to ensure the service continues to run for those who need it.

Read more on the annual relay here.

Members of the public taking part in the Braveheart lap for cancer survivors  in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the Braveheart lap for cancer survivors in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Norma Thirlwall, whose daughter Jade Thirlwall is patron of the charity, was also taking part in the relay on her behalf, and has managed to beat her target of £200.

She said: "This is the first time I have done it and I am really pleased to be taking part.

"Jade wasn't able to be here today, so I am representing her.

"Our close relation has been diagnosed with cancer and she is going to Cancer Connections, so it has really brought it home to us."

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Josef Craig, who is also patron of the charity, said: "I love Cancer Connections and I am so honoured to be patron of this great charity.

"I have been patron since 2012 and see it as my duty to give back to these people and this organisation which gives so much support to those who are dealing with cancer and their friends and family."

Coun Alan Smith, Mayor of South Tyneside was there to open the event which featured dancing and music from local groups throughout the day.

Coun Smith said: "I am honoured to be invited along in support of Cancer Connections.

"It is a pleasure for me as Mayor of South Tyneside to give my support to such a worthwhile charity.

"I did have leukaemia, so I understand everything people are going through and appreciate people coming out today.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

"Cancer Connections is a charity that is going from strength to strength and it is events like this that helps the charity meet its aims."

Taking part in the relay were those battling terminal cancer and their families.

One service user was Lee Hall who is battling terminal cancer and was taking part in the event with his family.

He said: "I was diagnosed in December 2104 with metastatic melanoma and went to Cancer Connections for advice.

"Within five minutes I was sitting with someone having a cuppa and talking abut it. It was fantastic and all the staff are so supportive.

"I have now raised around £10,000 fro the charity through various events and this is the second time I have taken part in this relay."

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.

Members of the public taking part in the annual Cancer Connections Faith, Hope and Love 24 hour relay.