Sophie embraces marathon challenge in memory of nan and grandad

PERSONAL QUEST– Sophie Briggs in training for the London Marathon

CHILDHOOD memories of the care given to her family by the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices has prompted a woman to raise funds for the charity by running the London Marathon.

Sophie Briggs is taking part in the event after first encountering the hospices when her grandfather Vic Masters, a retired architect, was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.

“My nan was a very independent lady and was determined to look after him herself,” said Sophie, who was a young teenager at the time.

“My grandfather quickly became very sick and at that point my nan was willing to ask the hospices to come in.

“Someone came in every day and made it possible for him to stay at home,” she said.

Her grandfather passed away at his home in Old Woking.

“It was a horrible situation but I remember thinking that these people are a godsend,” Sophie said.

About ten years later, her grandmother, Janet, a former shorthand secretary, model and beauty queen, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma.

Sophie’s mum Lynn and aunt Caroline moved in with their mother at her home in West Byfleet to look after her.

“Because of the experience with my grandfather, my nan was happy for the hospice to help. My mum and auntie were working and looking after their children and the hospice were there. My nan also died in her own bed,” Sophie said.

These experiences led Sophie into studying cancer research at Portsmouth University, where he gained a PhD and is now a medical writer in Cambridge.

She took part in the Great South Run while at university, raising money for a children’s cancer charity, and completed the Cambridge Half Marathon in March last year, just before the first lockdown.

“I thought, oh my God, I’m going to have to do this twice,” Sophie said.

The London Marathon is due to take place on 3 October when she will run with a friend and is being helped in training by her partner.

“Training is tough and especially tricky over winter. When I’m running, I have to think about what I’m doing it for.”

Sophie’s mum Lynn was a paramedic in Chertsey and used to go for coffee with a friend and colleague who was being treated at the Woking Hospice in Goldsworth Park.

“In one way or another the hospice has been a part of my life,” Sophie said.

“In these difficult times, hospices like WSBH need our help more than ever. With an increasing amount of patients requiring palliative care for any number of devastating illnesses, it is the role of the hospice to support patients and their families through the toughest of times.

“Caring for more than 2,000 patients across Surrey, this amazing network supports patients with life-limiting illnesses both at home and at the hospice centre in Woking.

“All WSBH do is completely free of charge and has helped so many thousands of people over the years, including my family,” Sophie said.

To donate to Sophie’s fundraising, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/sophiebriggs.

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