Paula Watson, the inspirational founder of Relay For Life Aylesbury which has raised more than £330,000 for Cancer Research, has sadly died.
Paula, 62, of Fairford Leys, passed away surrounded by family on March 9 at Florence Nightingale House Hospice.
She launched Relay For Life in Aylesbury in 2009 to raise money for Cancer Research UK and since then the annual 24-hour walking event at Aylesbury Rugby Club has raised £339,441.
She was also a founding member of Breastfriends in 2005, the Aylesbury-based support group for breast cancer patients and survivors.
She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Sadly, the cancer returned and spread, resulting in further surgery and treatment.
Mrs Watson, who was married to second husband Bob for 17 years, had three children, Sarah, Helen and Dan, a stepson Terry, and 10 grandchildren.
She will be remembered always as a shining beacon of hope and courage and her memory will live on in all those who had the pleasure of knowing herLynne Garner, Cancer Research UK
She moved to Aylesbury from Surrey in 1996 and was a successful businesswoman and company director in the IT industry, until her initial diagnosis.
Daughter Helen said: “Sarah, Dan, Terry and I are absolutely devastated to have lost our amazing mum and Bob is heartbroken to be without his very dear wife.
“She was an unbelievably strong and a truly selfless woman. An inspiration to us all. She will be missed every day but she leaves behind an unforgettable legacy that makes us all very proud to be hers.”
Rita Butcher, who was on the original Relay for Life Aylesbury committee with Paula in 2009, added: “Paula was such a driving force, not just in getting Relay for Life set up in Aylesbury, but also for keeping it going in the tough early years.
“She was a calming influence when we hit troubled water, a true leader.
“Paula was always willing to share her personal story about her cancer and gave so much help and support to others, especially through the Breastfriends Support Group.”
Relay for Life Aylesbury 2015 will take place for 24 hours from 12 noon on July 4 at Aylesbury Rugby Club.
Committee Chair Paula Kirby says this year’s event will celebrate Paula’s life and amazing achievement:
She said: “Paula founded Relay for Life Aylesbury on a shoestring seven years ago. Last year we had 32 teams, more than 500 Relayers and 52 Survivors taking part, which was simply incredible. Paula leaves an amazing legacy and it is one we will carry on in her memory.”
Lynne Garner, senior local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK Relay For Life, also paid tribute.
She said: “Paula was an inspirational Lady who epitomised a true ‘Relayer’.
“Bringing the gift of Relay magic and healing, she worked tirelessly to develop the community spirit that has been encapsulated in Relay For Life Aylesbury. “She will be remembered always as a shining beacon of hope and courage and her memory will live on in all those who had the pleasure of knowing her.
“Relay For Life Aylesbury is a permanent tribute to Paula and her work for Cancer Research UK, and our thoughts are with all her family and friends at this very sad time.”
Mrs Watson’s funeral will be held at Chilterns Crematorium in Amersham on Friday 27th March at 11.30am. To attend please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.