Vanessa Kyte – a mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend, died on 15th November 2007, seven years after first being diagnosed with breast cancer, which soon developed into secondary lung cancer and brain tumours.
Following her diagnosis, Vanessa was extremely passionate about fundraising for charities that helped support people in similar situations to herself. Over the years she raised more than £100,000 for local and national charities by taking part in ‘Wing Walks’, organizing balls and in 2003 she ran the Bath Half Marathon.
Since her passing, Vanessa’s family and friends have continued with her passion and drive for fundraising, by doing everything they can to help The Forever Friends Appeal charity raise funds to build a pioneering new cancer centre for the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
Vanessa’s sister, Nicola Noble said, “After Ness had both her breasts removed, she started running and realised nothing could get in her way! Raising money for a charity she believed in is what she was about. She would think it was wonderful that Ted’s Team in the 2013 Bath Half Marathon will be running to raise funds to help build a wonderful new cancer centre for the RUH.”
Due to her passion and commitment to fundraising for Cancer Care, Vanessa was thrilled to be invited to be a vice-president of The Forever Friends Appeal charity. Back in 2005, Vanessa and her sister Nic, sparked the idea of holding a fundraising walk all around the catchment area of the hospital. This 80-mile week-long walk, organised by The Forever Friends Appeal charity, took place in both 2006 and 2007 and significantly raised the profile of the charity across B&NES, Somerset and Wiltshire.
Following Vanessa’s death in November 2007, the walk developed into the 21 mile Walk of Life along the spectacular Kennet and Avon Canal, with the walk being named in her memory. All funds raised from this annual event go towards state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities to help care for cancer patients at the RUH. The annual event in May, the Walk of Life sees hundreds of mums, dads, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons take part in the event to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
Vanessa and Nicola’s mother Dianne Young said, “I am overwhelmed that the canal walk has proved so popular and successful since Nicola and Vanessa first approached Forever Friends with their original idea seven years ago. From a handful of friends and family it has grown into a fantastic walk of over 500 people who are there because someone they know and love has been touched by cancer. It’s amazing, and all the more poignant as Ness died just two years after its inception, but her enthusiasm and commitment for raising funds for cancer treatment at the RUH has been carried on by Nic. I couldn’t be more proud of them both and Vanessa would be over the moon to know how this acorn of an idea is growing into a beautiful oak.”
Head of fundraising for The Forever Friends Appeal, Tim Hobbs said, “Vanessa, along with Nic and the rest of her family, always wanted us to be focused on cancer care as our primary campaign and I believe she would very much approve of our vision for the new RUH Cancer Centre and the way our fundraising activity is developing to help achieve it.
“The Walk of Life, set up in Vanessa’s memory, is growing year by year and we are so looking forward to seeing it become even bigger. There are always a large number of Vanessa’s friends and family members who lead the walk, but each year they are being joined by more and more people who want to take part to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.”
May 2017 saw the most successful Walk of Life to date, with over 500 supporters taking on either the new marathon distance (26.2 miles) walk from Bishops Cannings (Devizes) to Bath or the ten mile afternoon section from Bradford-On-Avon to Bath.