Triple tragedy inspires Rotherham charity walk

Gillian Headon and Natalie Rush, pictured with Natalie's daughter Safia Zuber, four. Picture: Marie Caley S0075MC
Gillian Headon and Natalie Rush, pictured with Natalie's daughter Safia Zuber, four. Picture: Marie Caley S0075MC

A triple tragedy has inspired a brave Doncaster woman to organise a series of sponsored walks to raise vital funds for a range of charities.

Hairdresser Gillian Headon is organising the fundraising strolls in memory of three friends who lost their fight for life to cancer.

The latest Rush to Walk event in May will be the ninth in the last decade – the walks have so far raised more than £103,000.

Gillian, aged 56, was inspired to launch the event in 2006 in memory of her nurse pal Sandra Rush, of Conisbrough, who died of breast cancer in 2002 aged 44.

A few years later friend Lynn Wilson, a teaching assistant also from Conisbrough, died of pancreatic cancer, aged 54, in 2012.

Fellow pal Dorothy Weir, 74, from Swinton, lost her cancer battle in June 2013.

Gillian, of Doncaster Road, Mexborough, has dedicated the latest walk to her three pals.

She said: “Losing someone you love to cancer is utterly devastating. It is a tragedy which affects pretty much everyone.

“But I’m really proud of what we have achieved in the last decade or so. We just want to keep their memory alive and I’m sure the money will have helped a lot of people.”

The walk takes place on Sunday, May 3, and will start and finish in the picturesque setting of Wentworth Woodhouse stately home.

There will be numerous routes covering 12 miles, seven miles, 4.5 miles and three miles. The shorter routes will be suitable for parents with buggies.

The event usually attracts about 200 walkers each year and the Mayor of Rotherham John Foden is set to be on the start line next month.

Gillian said: “There are plenty of people who take part who will not even know my three friends who died but those who walk are usually doing it in memory of someone they have lost to cancer.

“Last year we raised about £9,000 so if we can get somewhere around that total that would be fantastic.

“I would urge as many people as possible to join us.

“Registration is now open for anyone who wants to come along.”

People who want to take part in the walk are advised to register online at

Those attending should arrive from 8.30am for a 9.30am start.

Proceeds will be split between St John’s Hospice in Balby, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in Rotherham, The Rotherham Hospital Charity, and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Donate online at