Charlie’s race in memory of mum

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A YOUNG girl who lost her mother to cancer is preparing to fire the starter’s pistol at a race event that raises thousands of pounds to help beat the disease.

Seven-year-old Charlie Smith will be the guest of honour at Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life at Holme Pierrepont on 31st July and will be taking part with grandma Marlene Richardson and aunt Kim Richardson, in memory of her mum Rebecca Smith, nee Coward-Richardson.

Rebecca, of New Ollerton, and a former pupil at Dukeries Community College, lost her battle with cancer aged just 37 in July 2009, after being diagnosed when Charlie was just four months old.

Marlene (65) said: “Rebecca started with cervical cancer and basically it went everywhere. It was caught quite early and she had a full hysterectomy when she was 32 and was told everything was taken out.

“Then, at a later stage, they found it was still there and she had radical radiotherapy and chemotherapy, everything they could do. This went on for five years before she eventually passed away.”

Charlie lives in East Yorkshire with her dad but often comes to stay with Marlene at her home on Fairweather Close in Boughton during school holidays.

“She’s coped with everything absolutely brilliantly,” said Marlene. “And that’s all down to Rebecca.

“She was a very, very bright, intelligent person and she realised the importance of Charlie being kept in the picture from day one.”

Rebecca, who was an English teacher, made memory boxes for Charlie and even sent off her milk teeth to a pioneering programme in America that will be able to grow stem cells from them should Charlie ever need that to be done for medical reasons.

Both Marlene and Kim have taken part in Races for Life in the past, but this will be Charlie’s first one - and she will have the special role of starting the fundraising event.

Said Marlene: “She’s thrilled to bits. Because of the way her life has been, she is really able to empathise with people who are ill or disabled and she feels that by doing this she can help people like her mummy who are poorly.”

The family hope to raise around £400 to help fund Cancer Research’s work into finding a cure for cancer.

Anybody who wants to sponsor them should contact Marlene on Mansfield 861778 or visit

Added Marlene: “Rebecca was a brilliant person, full of energy and enthusiasm. Once you met her you never forgot her.”