Stratford lunch club founder raises funds for a cause even closer to her heart - The Stratford Observer

Stratford lunch club founder raises funds for a cause even closer to her heart

Stratford Editorial 9th Apr, 2024   0

A DEDICATED Stratford fundraiser is now having to raise funds for a cause very close to her heart.

Jo Wheelwright-Horne was inspired to establish Stratford’s hugely successful Sunday Lunch Club after experiencing the loss of her mum to a brain tumour.

And after eight years and more than £100,000 raised for local charities, Jo now finds herself rallying the club’s members together again – this time in support of her husband’s cancer battle.

Alex, 59, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma last year after his dentist spotted a worrying patch in his mouth and immediately referred him for a biopsy.

More tests detected tumours and the news that his condition is incurable has left the couple devastated, but determined to work as hard as ever to raise much-needed funds for the Rigby Unit at Stratford Hospital, where Alex is being treated.

The initial target is to raise £5,000 for a new blood analysis machine, which can reduce the wait for results from two days to just two hours.

Jo said: “After speaking to the Rigby Unit head nurse she suggested that they could really do with a blood analysis machine – so my goal this year is for the Lunch Club to raise enough money – £5,000 – to buy one for the unit. But I intend to continue to fundraise for the Rigby Unit throughout the year.

“The impact of Alex’s diagnosis and treatment has been huge on both of us. And it’s been so hard to tell the family. His liver is in poor health so they only want to do chemotherapy once, at the moment he is on watch and wait. We live our lives for three-month periods between his blood tests. At the moment, thankfully, they are stable.

She added: “It was hard to tell Alex’s parents who live in Scotland, especially as his mom has seen two of her family members pass away from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, but we are hopeful that modern medicine has moved on since then.”

Jo’s journey with fundraising began – and continues – with Brain Tumour Support, following her own mum’s death to the disease. The charity is now the biggest beneficiary of Sunday Lunch Club proceeds with more than £37,000 raised.

Since its inception, Jo has enjoyed seeing The Sunday Lunch Club grow to 900 members, aged between 18 and 80, and has supported a wealth of other local charities, including Warwickshire Air Ambulance, Myton Hospice, Shakespeare Hospice, Amicci Dog Rescue in Worcester, Avon Cat Rescue in Welford, MIND and Molly Ollys in Warwick. Fundraising has also paid for six defibrillators for Stratford.

Last year Jo was proud to be presented with a British Empire Medal by the King as well as a clutch of local awards recognising her voluntary contribution. And she was recently named among the finalists for Ladies First Professional Development Awards.

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