Daredevil Joanne’s leap of faith in memory of pal who lost his brave cancer battle

Joanne Rowland is ready for her skydive.
Joanne Rowland is ready for her skydive.
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HIGH-FLYING Joanne Rowland is set to take the plunge in memory of a childhood friend who lost his battle with cancer.

The 42-year-old is set to take on a 10,000ft skydive to raise cash in memory of pal Steven Bruce, who died from stomach cancer at the age of 40, at the start of this year.

And this weekend Joanne will take to the dance floor for a charity disco and karaoke at the Black Bull pub in Front Street, East Boldon.

Saturday’s disco and the skydive, which is on September 25, are both in aid of charity Cancer Connections.

Dad-of-two Steven himself pledged to raise as much as possible and collected more than £50,000 for the charity before his death in January.

Sunderland AFC manager Steve Bruce paid tribute to his namesake, a big Black Cats fan, whom he met at the Stadium of Light when Steven celebrated his 40th birthday.

Joanne, of Hindmarsh Drive, West Boldon, said: “I’ve had a fantastic response so far. My initial target was £1,000, but I have already raised £940. The support from people since I announced I was doing the skydive has been amazing.

“We decided to arrange it as another event and hopefully people will come along for a dance and a sing, have a great night, and help us to support a very worthwhile cause.

“We have had tremendous support from local businesses who have donated some great prizes, so there will also be a first-class raffle on the night.”

Joanne knew Steven as a child, when he was best friends with her brother Neil.

The pair lost touch, but when she discovered he was suffering from terminal cancer, she visited him in hospital and also attended his funeral.

She added: “My brother Neil and Steve were always great friends and he was a lovely lad.

“I was very touched by what happened, and I just wanted to do something in his memory.”

Joanne, who works as a support worker at St Anne’s Community Services, in Sunderland, will take on the skydive at Durham Airfield, Peterlee, on September 25. She also hopes to take part in a fund-raising walk later this year.

Cancer Connections started in 2006, and provides emotional and practical help for cancer sufferers and their families.

The disco and karaoke night takes place on Saturday from 7pm.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho