Family and friends trek the Jurassic Coast in memory of woman who died from cancer

The team holding stars with a photo of Gemma inside. <i>(Image: Young Lives vs Cancer)</i>
The team holding stars with a photo of Gemma inside. (Image: Young Lives vs Cancer)

FAMILY and friends of a woman who died from cancer walked across the Jurassic Coast to raise money for the charity that supported her.

Gemma Fay, a "well-loved" figure in Salisbury, died a few days after her 25th birthday on July 30, 2023.

The former Trafalgar School head girl was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue hip cancer (Synovial Sarcoma) in September 2020.

Years of treatment included intense chemotherapy as an inpatient, radiotherapy, followed by surgery to remove the tumour and receive a hip replacement.

Gemma participated in a immunotherapy clinical trial at the Royal Marsden, followed by further more gentle chemo before she died.

Parents Rachel and Stuart, from West Grimstead, and seventeen friends of the family joined together as a team “Gems Shining Lights” to take part in the Jurassic Coast Ultra Challenge on Saturday, May 18.

Salisbury Journal: 'Gems Shining Lights' at the finish line.
Salisbury Journal: 'Gems Shining Lights' at the finish line.

'Gems Shining Lights' at the finish line. (Image: Young Lives vs Cancer)

All were walking the 25km impressive challenge in memory of Gemma and raised almost £8k for Young Lives vs Cancer (formally CLIC Sargent).

Two months before Gemma died, Stuart took on the 100km Jurassic Coast Ultra challenge, closely followed by his wife and daughter who came along to support him.

Read more: ​Completing the 36 mile Jurassic Coast challenge to support a cancer charity

Stuart said: “This year, the challenge was an incredible achievement by all who took part. We are pleased we can do our bit and give something back.

"Gemma was looking down on us and cheering us on.”

Young Lives vs Cancer was one of Gemma's chosen charities and the family were able to stay in a 'home from home' while social workers provided crucial support, advice and guidance.

"We really appreciate Young Lives vs Cancer for making life a little easier," added Stuart.

Salisbury Journal: Mum Rachel with daughter Gemma Fay.
Salisbury Journal: Mum Rachel with daughter Gemma Fay.

Mum Rachel with daughter Gemma Fay. (Image: Young Lives vs Cancer)

Mum Rachel said: “Gemma truly lived life to the full when she was able to and loved the outdoors and being by the sea, so this seemed a good challenge to take on.

"I was pleased to wear Gemma’s walking boots on the challenge, which felt incredible.

"We are so thankful to Gemma, for being such an inspiration to us all and for the many hearts and lives she touched with her warm positive approach to life and her beautiful smile."

The team included Mel, Jemima, Freya, Sophie, Sarah, Laura, Suzanne, Fi, Andrea, Hattie, Liz, Helen, Rob, Chris, Jane, Delia and Keith.

Liz Blunt, senior fundraising engagement manager for Young Lives vs Cancer said: “I was very sorry to hear when Gemma passed away last year. Rachel and Stuart are so kind and thoughtful in raising funds to help others.

"It was so wonderful to hear Rachel’s idea of giving each team member a shell from Gemma’s collection to place wherever they would like along the walk and gave them one to keep to take home as a keepsake. All the team had a star printed with a photo of Gemma.

"It really means a lot to us at Young Lives vs Cancer to have had the team raise funds to help young cancer patients and their families. It helps ensure that others can continue to be supported by our social workers, be given grants and able to stay in our 'Homes from Home'."