How it all began
Joan Warwick's husband John Warwick was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2002. In October, he went into Darent Valley Hospital (DVH) where he spent the next 7 months, only going home for short periods. He underwent five operations and throughout his stay in DVH he was given the best possible care and kindness. Sadly, John lost his battle with cancer on 23rd April 2003.
Joan and her family wanted to thank the hospital for all the care given to John and decided to organise a sponsored walk and fun day in John’s memory with all the monies raised going to the hospital.
On 13th July 2003, 30 people did a sponsored walk in John memory. They walked 7 laps of the hospital grounds, 1 lap for each month John had spent in hospital. The fun day started with Joan's granddaughters releasing 50 balloons while family and friends ran a variety of stalls. The day was advertised in the local papers and on posters, which were delivered by hand around the local area. Family, friends and local people supported the day and raised £5,330.
Following the success of the day it was realised that there were a lot that could be done with the monies raised and the Warwick family got a great deal of comfort, which gave them the idea that other families may also like to take part in a day remembering a loved one.
In July 2004, the first Stride 4 Life was held and at the same time the hospital opened a fund called the Cancer Fighting Fund.
In 2009, Joan Warwick was awared an MBE at Buckingham Palace for her charitable services to Darent Valley Hospital. Joan has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for our Cancer Fighting Fund and was recognised in the New Years Honours list.
Joan has said that she was amazed to get an MBE. "I could not believe it. I do not raise the money to get any kind of personal recognition, but I’m very proud to be given this award.”
The grandmother-of-two, who spends two days a week at the hospital collecting money, says she was “overwhelmed” when receiving her honour. She says her son Michael and granddaughters Ellie and Amy, who take part in Stride 4 Life every year, are “very proud” of her.