The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Double cancer survivor on having the Courage to stand up and raise vital funds for charity


Given the numerous treatments, injections and lifechangi­ng diagnoses these women have endured throughout their lives, you would think they could conquer anything without even batting an eyelid.

But taking to the catwalk is a whole different story.

Each year, 24 nervous women prepare to strut their stuff at Courage on the Catwalk. Though they come from all different walks of life, they share one thing in common; cancer.

Hundreds of women have walked the runway as part of Courage in the last decade, all of whom had either beaten or were fighting the disease when they did so.

North east charity Friends of Anchor supports the Anchor Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the main cancer and haematolog­y facility in the region used by patients from the north and north-east

Judy Alexander is telling me about her new leather trousers, fedora collection and the nail appointmen­t she has booked for next week. She recently cleared out her wardrobe, but only to make room for new clothes.

She is laughing about a recent flight to Majorca, on which she got free prosecco because the cabin crew recognised her as a regular. Her WhatsApp pings away as friends message to organise lunches, which she loves dressing up for.

Judy is also 92 years old. A zest for life oozes from her even over the phone and I ask her where she thinks she gets that from. It turns out this light comes from a darker place.

“I had a cancer when I was 40,” said Judy. “It was when I was having my third baby, they had been checking me over and found that I had it in my cervix. The fact I was pregnant was making it worse, so I had Sarah-Jane and the week after I was in for a hysterecto­my.

“Then when I was 72, I discovered something wrong of Scotland as well as the northern isles. Courage is their biggest fundraiser of the year alongside Brave, which is the male version of the event and started in 2017. Together, they have raised more than £1.7 million for the charity.

The 10th anniversar­y Courage on the Catwalk show takes place in May 2024. The first show was held in 2013, with the Covid years stealing two shows from the charity. For the first time, it will move from The Beach Ballroom to the far larger P&J Live as demand for tickets continues to soar. The hunt for next year’s models has begun and applicatio­n forms are already flooding in.

Some who have walked the runway in the last decade are no longer here to remember it. But, despite the backstage nerves, those who are agree it took something that seemed like it would change their lives for the worse and changed them for the better. with one of my breasts. It was an inverted nipple and I read that it was a sign to go and get checked so I did and they found a cancerous tumour.”

Judy had lost her mother to leukaemia and her husband, Tom, the love of her life, to lung cancer when he was 80 and she 70. “It was a short illness for Tom, which in a way was a good thing,” she said.

“I managed to get him home to die with me. He was such a handsome, attractive man, I was blessed. He was 6ft tall and I was 4ft something and

Gail Roberts with a picture of herself at the first Courage on the Catwalk event in 2013.

Kami Thomson

 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom