For Jack Cummins and his family, this past year has been particularly hard. Before the coronavirus impacted all of our lives, the family suffered a loss which is still being felt a year on.

Jack’s mum Tess was diagnosed with cancer around the peritoneum in January 2020 and she quickly deteriorated. She died on 7th March 2020, just a few hours before she was due to go into the hospice.

‘We spent Christmas together and she seemed fine. Then she had some scans done in January and it all happened very quickly,’ Jack said. ‘I didn’t have the chance to come to terms with it. It’s been a strange year.’

Jack with his mum, Tess

In her honour, Jack has chosen to raise money for St Wilfrid’s by taking part in the 4 x 4 x 48 challenge. Starting on Friday 5th March, he will be running four miles around Eastbourne every four hours for 48 hours, finishing on Sunday 7th March – the anniversary of his mum’s death.

Jack describes his mum as a very caring person who had a lot of friends. Originally from Birmingham, Jack, Tess, and Jack’s father Adrian moved to Eastbourne when Jack was 10 years old. This February would have been Tess and Adrian’s 30th wedding anniversary.

Adrian, Jack and Tess 

Tess worked at the Eastbourne DGH on the physiotherapy unit for 10 years and had only recently retired. She was also very creative and a great seamstress. ‘She would always be fixing holes in my jeans,’ Jack told us.

A year later, Jack has decided to raise money for the hospice because it’s where Tess wished to spend her final days. Along with hundreds of other people who will be taking part in the endurance challenge, made famous by American athlete David Goggings, he will be running 48 miles in total in memory of his mum.

‘I’ve always enjoyed running,’ Jack said, ‘I was training for the London Marathon this time last year, but I’ve now deferred my place to April 2022. I’ve had this urge to do a long distance run and I was buzzing when I got a place in the London Marathon. But, of course, the urge was never satisfied, so when I saw this challenge – and saw that it was taking place on the anniversary of my mum’s death – it was like it was meant to be.

‘It may sound easy on the face of it, however I’ve heard that the sleep deprivation makes it quite tough.

‘There is a lot of discontentment in the world, but we’ll all be coming together to achieve a common goal.' 

As well as coming together with like-minded individuals across the world, Jack’s family and friends will also be coming together to join him, virtually.

Tess with her siblings

‘We’re a very close family,’ Jack told us. ‘Mum has two brothers, Martin and Graham and two sisters, Paula and Susan, as well as nieces and nephews. We were all together around my mum’s bedside when she died, but because of the pandemic restrictions we haven’t seen each other since, and therefore haven’t been able to hold her celebration of life yet.

‘They are going to be joining me with the final leg from where they live in the West Midlands. My friends, my dad and my girlfriend Lucy have also said that they’re going to join me, socially distanced, at different stages. It will be nice to have the support and company, especially on the graveyard shifts!’

We would like to take this opportunity to wish Jack the best of luck with his challenge and send our thoughts to his family at such a significant time. If you would like to show your support, you can donate to Jack’s JustGiving page here.

Our work is only part-funded by the NHS, so every penny raised by our generous community and people like Jack makes a huge difference to the lives of our patients, their friends and family, and their carers. As we celebrate 40 years of St Wilfrid's, we hope that, with your help, we can raise the funds that we need to keep going for the next 40 years. Thank you