Widower running Colchester Hospitals Charity Santa Fun Run in memory of late wife Karen Millard

Karen Millard visiting Colchester Zoo in June 2011, six months after she had been diagnosed with sec

Karen Millard visiting Colchester Zoo in June 2011, six months after she had been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. - Credit: Archant

Karen Millard was just 48 when she died in July as a result of complications from secondary breast cancer.

A previous CoHoC Santa Fun Run.

A previous CoHoC Santa Fun Run. - Credit: Archant

Eight years earlier she had been given the all-clear following gruelling surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Colchester Hospital after being diagnosed with breast cancer five years earlier.

She marked that momentous return to health by running 5km to raise money for cancer research at an event in Bury St Edmunds.

But that happiness was not to last.

The breast cancer returned and Karen, who had her own beauty salon business, underwent more surgery and radiotherapy in 2009. From 2011 she needed treatment for secondary breast cancer.

Kevin Millard out on a training run

Kevin Millard out on a training run - Credit: Archant

This included surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Colchester as well as treatment for two brain tumours at Queen’s Hospital, Romford and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

Her death left her family, including husband, Kevin, devastated.

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But in his grief Kevin decided to take inspiration from Karen and do something positive both in her memory and to help the hospitals that helped her so much.

On Sunday, December 6 Kevin, 57, an engineer who lives at Pennypot Corner, near Greenstead Green, is aiming to complete the 5km route of the 2015 Colchester Hospitals Charity (CoHoC) Santa Fun Run in the town’s Castle Park. And he is encouraging as many other people as possible to do the same.

All the money raised from the event will be donated to the Cancer Centre Campaign, which is being led by CoHoC to raise £4.5 million to create an integrated cancer centre at Colchester General Hospital.

So far, just over £1m has been donated.

“Essex County Hospital and Colchester General Hospital both helped Karen, and I wanted to give something back, which is why I signed up for the Santa Fun Run,” says Kevin, who has just started training for the run and is out pounding the streets most days before setting off for work in Great Dunmow.

He has already raised £350 in sponsorship.

“In all the years that she was treated in Colchester, the staff never gave up on Karen and I think this helped her to keep going. She never lost her smile or her determination to get on and enjoy life.

“In 2007, she ran five kilometres for cancer research and I thought: ‘If Karen can do it, then so can I.’

“The Cancer Centre is exactly what Karen would have wanted because it will help people affected by cancer, so I can think of no better reason to run in her memory.”

Kevin and Karen were married for almost 10 years. She also had two grown-up children, Jamie, 27, and Michala, 25, from a previous marriage, and a grandson, James, aged two.

Caroline Bates, CoHoC fundraising manager, praised Kevin’s decision to take part in the run.

“It is both courageous and generous of Kevin to sign up for this year’s Santa Fun Run at a time when his wife’s death must still be very raw,” she said.

“There is a very serious reason behind the run but the day itself is essentially a fun occasion and we want as many people as possible to take part and raise funds for the Cancer Centre Campaign.”

About 600 people took part in last year’s event, which was the fifth, and raised about £15,000 for the Cancer Centre Campaign.

The campaign aims to create a building adjoining the £25m state-of-the art radiotherapy centre, which opened at Colchester General Hospital in June last year, to form an integrated cancer centre.

Those behind the project say it will combine first-class radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and medical treatments, alongside a holistic range of therapies, information, support and advice for cancer patients and their loved ones.

The aim is for it to be a centre of excellence for all residents in mid and north east Essex and the surrounding areas.

The Santa Fun Run, consisting of a 3km (1.9 miles) or 5km (3.1 miles) run, will start and finish near the bandstand in Castle Park.

Everyone completing it will receive a Santa Fun Run medal.

It is open to children and adults of all ages and abilities, including anyone who wants to walk or push a buggy, pram or even a wheelchair round the course.

The entry fee is £15 for adults (aged 16 and over), which includes a free Santa suit.

Entry for children aged five to 15 is £8 each, which includes a free Santa hat, and is free for anyone under five.

Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult aged at least 18.

Team entry is for groups of 10 or more people aged 16 and over at £8 each, which includes a free Santa suit.

People can enter on the day – £25 for adults and £10 for children.

On December 6, runners will be able to collect their Santa suits and Santa hats from near the bandstand between 9am and 9.59am.

The 5km run starts at 10am and the 3km run at 10.05am. Both courses are on hard surfaces.

Anyone wanting more information about the Santa Fun Run or who wants to sign up should phone Julie Arthur, CoHoC fundraising officer, on 01206 745303. Alternatively, book online via the CoHoC website: www.cohoc.org.uk (there is a fee of £1.08 per person when booking online).

Anyone wanting to sponsor Kevin Millard can donate online at www.justgiving.com/Kevin-Millard-remember-Karen. To sponsor him by text, text DVLP82 followed by the amount, eg £10.

To find out more about the Cancer Centre Campaign and Colchester Hospitals Charity, visit the CoHoC website

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