When much-loved man Harry Diamond died suddenly of liver disease earlier this year, his large family were distraught. And no-one more so than his daughter, Rebecca, who works in Stapleford.
But now Rebecca is determined to transform a negative into a positive. She has formed a band of supporters called Harry’s Angels, who are to go on an emotional sponsored walk in his honour and to raise money for a liver charity.
“My dad was my world,” says Rebecca, a funeral director at the Stapleford branch of A.W. Lymn. “He was my best friend, and the head of our large family.
“He was a brilliant role model for me and my two daughters, and an absolute gentleman. A really nice chap. We want to remember his life and also raise money to help the British Liver Trust.”
Grandfather Harry, who was 67, was a construction worker throughout his career, and lived in Bilborough, near Nottingham with his wife Alicia, 69.
When diagnosed with liver disease, he was ill for three months before he died in June, leaving three daughters, including 40-year-old Rebecca, five sons and many grandchildren.
It has taken time for Rebecca, who also lives in Bilborough, to get over the tragedy. But now she says: “I want to do something for my dad. I have always enjoyed walking, but I thought it would be no fun doing a sponsored walk on my own. Therefore, I started to recruit a few people and set up Harry’s Angels.”
The Angels include Rebecca’s two daughters, 18-year-old Caitlin, who is studying at Sheffield Hallam University, and nine-year-old Aoife, one of her sisters, Bernadette, and work colleagues. Her other sister and a cousin may also join them for the walk, while mum Alicia will be there to offer support.
The walk will take place in Nottingham on Sunday, October 30, from 12 noon, and, symbolically, it will cover a six-mile route in the shape of a liver.
The route starts from Wollaton Hall and progresses to the Council House in the city centre before returning to Wollaton Hall, via University Boulevard.
Rebecca is hoping to complete the trek in under two-and-a-half hours, and she’s been getting in lots of practice because she walks home from work, a distance of three miles, most days.
“People might think it strange, but I enjoy it,” she explains. “I don’t have time to go to the gym, so it gives me plenty of exercise. It also helps me to wind down after a day at work, which can be stressful. It’s my get-out time.”
Rebecca, who has been at for Lymn’s for 17 years after previously working for the Ilkeston Co-op funeral service for about five years, says anyone can pop along to the walk to lend their support.
She has also set up a JustGiving page online, where donations to the Liver Trust would be gratefully received. Her target is £500, and her message is: “My lovely dad passed away too soon. I hope you’ll join me in honouring his memory by donating, joining me or supporting this worthy cause.”
Liver disease is the third largest cause of premature death in the country. Diagnosis is often late because symptoms are hard to detect.
The Liver Trust supports patients and their families and funds research into causes and treatment. Crucially, it also raises awareness of the disease, which Rebecca is most keen to support.
“It is an horrendous illness that too few people know enough about,” she says. “We all assume that cancer is the big killer, but there are other things that we should be equally afraid of. People don’t realise how quickly you can be taken by liver disease.”
To make a donation, got to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rebecca-Diamond