In memory of Jacqui
Jacqui died in April last year, eight years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ross is an experienced climber, walker and fell-runner. He was inspired to complete the epic run after reading an account of the ‘Lakes, Mears & Waters Challenge’.
“I wanted to do something in memory of Jacqui. I've done these kinds of things before, but most importantly for me, the route was around all the Lakes. Jacqui is buried in a wood we own, overlooking Grassmere, so I started and ended the run with her.”
An incredible challenge
The challenge took 46 hours over three days and Ross admits it was very tough at times.
“The route takes you to some really remote places in the Lake District that you'd never otherwise go to. You're literally going from one valley bottom, right up over a mountain, and down the other side to the next valley. And then the same again, and the same again.
“And then you wake up at four o'clock the next morning, put your trainers on, and go and do it all over again. It was painful. Your feet kill, your legs kill. It becomes quite relentless.
“But at the end, I was loving it. I just dived straight into Lake Grassmere in front of everybody. It was very emotional and uplifting. And it's been a cathartic process and about me making a positive step forward since Jacqui passed away.”
Jacqui's diagnosis was hard on us both
The couple were childhood sweethearts after meeting at school and were married for 33 years.
Jacqui was my soulmate and just a wonderful, kind person. People really connected with her because she was a fantastic listener.
She was someone you instantly felt comfortable with and a true friend to so many people.
“Jacqui’s diagnosis was that she was going to not come through this. We were told it could be months or years. It was a long, drawn-out time and very hard on us both.”
“The year before she died, we found out that the disease had spread. It became very clear that there would not be a way back from that.
Counselling support through Treetops Hospice
“Jacqui started going to Treetops for counselling to help her get her head around what was happening. And to help her deal with the end of her own life.
“It's something that she struggled to be able to communicate with me because it was just too painful.
She knew it would be too hard for me to hear. I know it helped her to be able to talk about it with somebody independently.
Not long after her death, Ross completed a 400 mile walk along the southwest coast. But on his return to Melbourne, his loss really hit home. he approached Treetops for bereavement counselling.
“I had great family and friends around me, but I needed somebody to help me with the right expertise. Someone that I could talk to completely openly. The counselling helped me through some of my lowest points.
“It has helped me enormously, but it also helped my family as well. I've got two children. They're adults, but they're still dealing with something dreadful, the loss of their mother. And almost the loss of their dad because they’ve seen me completely struggling at times. That’s extremely difficult to deal with.
Treetops is a lovely place. The staff and the environment made me feel calm. When all this is happening to you, you need to be somewhere that makes you feel calm inside, instead of all the turmoil of your emotions.
"You know you’ve got people around you that care. It’s like getting a hug, without getting a hug. I’m indebted to Treetops for their support.
I’d like people to know that I’m doing okay. I know I will have another life beyond my time with Jacqui and find my way, but she will never leave me, ever, and I’ll never forget her. And Treetops has helped me with that.”