TWO of the Cotswolds’ most well-known churches were bathed in purple light as part of a crusade to raise awareness of the disease that killed a much loved husband and father.
Sue & Sarah Dennis, of West Hay Grove, Kemble, have ensured that Cirencester Parish Church and Kemble Church were flying the flag for Pancreatic Cancer UK on Sunday, November 1 as part of the charity’s national Purple Lights for Hope campaign.
Both churches will take on a striking purple complexion for the night to raise awareness of the disease which is Britain’s 10th most common cancer, but its fifth most deadly.
Pancreatic cancer is not a well-known disease in Britain, but it is a particularly dangerous type of the disease because its symptoms are often confused for regular stomach pains, meaning it can be diagnosed when it is too late.
Sarah lost her father (& Sue her husband), John Dennis, to pancreatic cancer in July 2013 after he was diagnosed a year earlier.
Sarah’s sister, Rachel, who along with their mum, Sue, has also been involved in the campaign, got married on June 30 at her father’s bedside, a couple of days before he died. She brought the wedding forward when they knew he didn’t have long left so he could still give her away.
“We spoke to many people about Pancreatic Cancer, distributed a lot of information leaflets and, at the last count, we raised over £1200 for the charity. This included a generous donation of £300 from Kemble Church.”
The total amount raised is expected to increase over the next few days and weeks as several shops have taken collection boxes, the proceeds of which will all contribute to the total.
“Before he had the condition we knew very little about it,” Sarah said. “Now I’m on something of a crusade to get people talking about it.”
Purple Lights for Hope was launched last year, with Gloucester Cathedral among the famous landmarks being lit-up, but Sarah was away travelling so could not participate.
This year, however, she is going all out.
On Saturday, October 31, the day before the churches took on their new look, Sarah, Rachel and Sue held an awareness day in Cirencester with stalls set-up outside the parish church and in Bishops Walk.
Sarah stressed that the team of volunteers, including a number of Soroptimists from SI Cirencester & District as well as Cirencester Rotarians (John was a member) were there to raise awareness first and take donations second.