A WOMAN from York who has been fundraising for cancer research in memory of her best friend for the last 20 years is celebrating receiving a national charity award.

Jo Jackson, 54, of Strensall, has been awarded the Purple Rose Award from Cancer Research UK for her role as fundraising chair of Relay for Life York.

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The Purple Rose Award was created in memory of Rose Dalton, who founded Relay For Life Ascot in 2008 and through her leadership helped them raise over £1 million for Cancer Research UK. She sadly died in 2018.

Jo, a health and safety lead for the foodservice giant Compass Group UK & Ireland, has been event chair for Relay For Life York since 2018.

Since then, she has helped the community fundraising event raise over £362,000 for Cancer Research UK, including £70,321 in 2023.

In receiving the award Jo has been recognised for fully embodying the Relay standards and for her passion, which goes “above and beyond” to make a huge impact within the Relay community.

Jo began fundraising for Cancer Research UK in 2002 after her best friend Larna died of breast cancer aged just 34.

York Press: Larna and Jo were best of friendsLarna and Jo were best of friends (Image: Supplied)

Jo, who is a mum of one, said: “I’m so honoured to have received this award. I was so fortunate to get to know Rose before she died and I have learnt so much from her. It really means so much getting an award in her name.

“Everything I do for Cancer Research UK is done in memory of Larna. She was so young when she was diagnosed, but despite it only being nearly 22 years ago, if she got the same diagnosis today it’s likely she would have survived due to the advances in research.

“That is why I fundraise. I want to support research and find new breakthroughs to help people survive.”

Jo and Larna grew up together in Hambleton and despite life taking them to different places across the country they reunited in Yorkshire in the last years of her life and made more wonderful memories together.

Jo said: “I don’t ever want my daughter to have to face what Larna went through. I hope my fundraising will inspire others just like Rose inspired me.”

In her role as corporate charity champion Jo has also helped her colleagues at Compass raise over £2.66 million for vital research.

York Press: Jo and husband TimJo and husband Tim (Image: Supplied)

Jo, is backing the Cancer Research UK’s ‘Together We Are Beating Cancer’ campaign to help ensure life-saving progress like this continues and is urging people to get involved.

The awareness and fundraising drive highlights the heartwarming moments - from big birthdays and anniversary celebrations, to quality time with loved ones – being made possible for people affected by cancer, right now.

Reflecting on her experience, Jo said: “Just like Larna, not everyone diagnosed with cancer will reach key milestones – and that’s why Cancer Research UK’s work is so vital. I’m determined to do what I can to show my support.”

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for North Yorkshire, said: “For the last seven years Jo has lived and breathed Relay For life. Her passion and love for the fundraising event and charity helps inspire her community. From early collections on a cold windy morning at York train station, to delivering a homemade afternoon tea for cancer survivors, she really eats, sleeps and breathes Relay For Life."

Donate now at cruk.org/donate