Ely marathon woman who lost husband and sister to cancer takes on gruelling arctic challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:31 11 March 2020

Ginette Heard (front far right) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALK

Ginette Heard (front far right) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALK

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A woman from Barway near Ely who lost both her sister and husband to cancer has completed a mammoth 26.2-mile skiing challenge to raise money for charity Walk the Walk.

Ginette Heard (front far left, seated) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALKGinette Heard (front far left, seated) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALK

Ginette Heard signed up to the arctic challenge through subarctic Sweden following the death of her older sister Colette from lymphoma, after losing her husband Steve to pancreatic cancer in 2008.

Ginette has already taken part in moonwalk events in London and Edinburgh with friends, but nothing quite like this.

'Just before Christmas 2018, my sister Colette relapsed with lymphoma,' she said.

'Whilst watching her going through treatment, it struck me how gruelling and devastating much of the treatment for all cancers is.

Ginette Heard (third from left) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALKGinette Heard (third from left) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALK

'So, my thoughts turned towards doing 'the walk' again.

'The dates for Walk the Walk's arctic challenge fell on what would have been Colette's 69th birthday, so I had to do it.

'She was my big sister and was always there.'

With temperatures falling to as low as -22 degrees over two days in the Abisko National Park, mother-of-two Ginette had never taken part in a cross-country event before, but alongside her 14-strong team, managed to overcome all before them.

Ginette Heard (first row middle standing) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALKGinette Heard (first row middle standing) took on the arctic challenge in Sweden with teammates for cancer charity Walk the Walk. Pictures: WALK THE WALK

'I've always been a bit dismissive of it, but the people doing it always looked so fit and happy,' she said.

'My only fear was what were the other participants going to be like? All hyper-fit and scary? Nope, just a bunch of extraordinary human beings brought together for one thing.

'We all had our personal reasons for being there, but the majority of us were solo travellers, like me, with a common desire to make a difference.

'The stillness and the cold are, at times, overwhelming, but it was such a privilege to be there.'

Ginette hopes that by completing her latest marathon challenge, this has a lasting impact on peoples' lives.

'Experiences like these are life-changing and they will make a difference, not just to individuals, but to those who we are ultimately fundraising for,' she added.

Walk the Walk has raised more than £133 million since 1996, funding both research into breast cancer and helping improve the lives of those living with cancer.

For more information or to sign up for a Walk the Walk event, visit https://walkthewalk.org.

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