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Determination and stamina raise £60,000 for Cancer Research UK

Photos by Eyleen Gomez

With over £60,000 raised and over 70 cancer survivors taking part, hundreds of walkers and runners together racked up thousands of kilometres around the Lathbury Stadium track at last weekend’s Relay For Life in aid of Cancer Research UK.

One of those people taking part is the young Reilly Roper. Having walked on Saturday and Sunday, he rang the cancer free bell on Monday morning, a poignant reminder that the battle can be won when money is invested in cancer research.

Led by the Gibraltar Sea Scouts pipe band, 70 survivors started off the relay by doing an honorary lap of the track, Reilly among them, all wearing a purple t-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘survivor’.

Once that lap was done, everyone else continued the relay and, over the following 24 hours, hundreds of people walked thousands of kilometres raising money as they did so.


Some people left the track after their hour or when they tired, but some stayed on through the 24 hours.
Peter Bering from Bassadone ran and walked the entire time and clocked up 159km while doing so. Fuelled by bags of sauceless pasta, bananas and isotonic drinks, he powered his way around and ran the last few laps.

The mental resilience needed for a challenge that takes you nearly 400 times around a track is exceptional.

However, his feat was only made truly possible by his support team, with him publicly thanking Joelle Vazquez and his colleagues for their help.

Ian Martinez, also from Bassadone, walked the entire 24 hours and covered 109km. His challenge had many a grim moment. He ‘hit the wall’ eight hours in and once again four hours later, leaving him physically sick.

But that did not stop him, he kept on going, with many a walker joining him on his numerous laps to offer support and a break from the monotony.

Linzi Moffat from Hassans woke up last Saturday with no intention of walking for 24 hours. However when she got on the track that all changed and she said to herself ‘I can keep on going’, and that is exactly what she did.

Donning a long warm hoody during the night time, she kept on moving, walking with her colleagues or her friends for some parts. She walked over 100km over the 24 hours and was back in work on Monday morning with only slightly sore feet.

Charmaine Romero, from Bosom Buddies, is a two-times breast cancer survivor and also decided to take on the 24-hour challenge, covering over 100km.

While the event is 24-hours long, it would appear that Ms Romero could go for much longer, unfazed by her achievement. Following a short nap and a roast beef dinner, she went to dance class on Sunday evening and has done every day since.

Others taking part, although they did not keep going for the full 24 hours, also hit the 100km mark. One such person is former Island Games athlete Steven Walker.

Originally he had a goal of 60km, but that soon became 70km, then 80km and, before he knew it, he said he wanted to hit that 100km.

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The event isn’t about challenges though, it is about much more.

It was about community and coming together to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer, those who won and those who are going through that battle right now.

One moment that is most poignant is the Candle of Hope ceremony that took place at 10pm when darkness fell.

Here bags written with messages to loved ones were placed around the track and on the stadium seats spelling out the words HOPE and LIFE. A battery-operated candle flickered as the lights in the stadium were turned off and Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes.

Candles lit, a poem called ‘The Empty Table’ was read out. The poem focuses on a symbolic table set for one, representing loved ones who have been affected by cancer.

Each element on the table carries a symbolic meaning, such as the white tablecloth representing the medical profession and the pink ribbon symbolising support for finding a cure.

The poem acknowledges the challenges faced by patients and their families, emphasising the need for ongoing research and fundraising efforts.

Once this was over, the relay returned to the track and did not stop until 11am on Sunday morning.


The weather was cold and damp that day, especially in the hours of darkness, with many wrapped up in layers and even throws as they walked around the track.

Cancer never sleeps, hence the 24-hour event, and many people also did not sleep that night. Instead they stayed huddled up in their tent with their friends, family or colleagues keeping each other awake.

On Saturday, there were performances by local dance groups and the band Jesse Tree, while Base Training gave a free Zumba class and BollyGib gave a free Bollywood Fitness class. Children kicked football for hours on end while others played on the mats laid down for the dancers. There was a steady stream of people buying cakes and goodies as well as other food throughout the day.

For the last half hour of the event, everyone who could walked, with some finding bursts of energy from somewhere danced as popular songs like YMCA and Sweet Caroline blared from the speakers.

During the closing ceremony, expressions of gratitude were extended to all those who contributed to the event's success. Survivors, participants, volunteers, spectators, team leaders, and supportive sponsors were acknowledged.

Giovi Vinales from Cancer Research UK Gibraltar Branch said, “I'm sure you will all agree what an amazing 24 hours this has been.”

“A show of common strength with a wonderful community spirit evidence throughout with everyone given up 24 hours.”

“It is only through your combined efforts in coming together for one day, one night and one reason that we will make that difference.”

“That is what really is all about. And in order to contribute to that difference I am pleased to announce that as it stands at this moment in time, we have collectively raised an amazing amount of £50,000 (this now stands at over £60,000).”

“This shows that we really care and that we're all determined to rid ourselves of cancer.”

“Unfortunately, we're all in this fight together. But we have demonstrated here today that together we can and we will make a difference,” she added.

There were special thanks to the Cancer Research UK Gibraltar branch and various organisations that lent their assistance, as well as the hardworking and dedicated members of the organising committee.

Trudy Stammer, Head of Fundraising at Cancer Research UK, addressed the audience and commended the Gibraltar community for its extraordinary dedication over the years, noting that their efforts had helped to nearly eradicate cervical cancer through the implementation of the HPV vaccine; facilitated the development of over 50 cancer drugs; pioneered immunotherapy and personalised medicine; and made significant advancements in targeted treatments for various forms of cancer.

“This is the seventh Relay for Life Gibraltar. And together we did a quick calculation and we think in that time you've raised well over £300,000,” she said.

“Relay is about three things. Celebrating those who have beaten cancer, remembering those who've sadly lost to cancer and fighting back to beat cancer and with your community spirit you certainly done that this weekend,” she added.

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