Sheffield duo raise thousands for Weston Park in charity bed push

Written by Sophie Watson

Debbie Cundy, Life Coach and avid fundraiser for Weston Park Cancer Hospital, and her friend Richard Hepworth, owner of Air Environmental Ltd., pushed a hospital bed from the city centre to Endcliffe Park on Saturday afternoon.

The bed push took just over two hours, starting at Sheffield Town Hall, travelling along St Mary’s Place and Ecclesall Road, finishing at Endcliffe Park at 2:30pm.

Along their route, friends, family, and supporters of the Sheffield cancer charity joined them, holding collection boxes to collect donations from people on the streets. On route, travelling cars and buses pulled over to donate to the good cause.

At present, the bed push has raised £4,285.07 for Weston Park. A final fundraising total will be released next week.

There were two hospital beds at the fundraiser – a small and a large one. The large bed represented the adults being treated at Weston Park and the smaller bed with the teddy bear, symbolised children who have been diagnosed with cancer at the hospital. 

“Weston Park is a fantastic charity and hospital. Unfortunately, we will all know someone affected by cancer. 50% of the population will be affected by cancer in our lifetime”, said Debbie.

Weston Park hospital beds ready for the bed push at Sheffield Town Hall

The children’s hospital bed pushed by Debbie and Richard was covered in personal messages from people who had donated to the fundraiser through the online donation page. The bedsheets and the teddy bear’s outfit were created by Julie Cann, a volunteer for the Weston Park Cancer Charity.

The larger hospital bed was decorated with 50 Weston Park flags to represent 50 years of the hospital. This bed was voluntarily transported to Endcliffe Park to join the bed push fundraisers at the finish line by Vocon Traffic Management, who wanted to show their support for the cancer charity.

Sharon Sleight, a proud wife, whose husband Mark Sleight had died from terminal cancer on Christmas Day 2021, joined the charity bed push.

“Weston Park were just phenomenal. My husband was with them for his Chemotherapy.

“The two things he said he was always frightened of was leaving me, because we had been married 32 years. The other was being in pain. Not once was he in pain and that was down to the doctors and nurses at Weston Park.

“They were there for me as well as him and I can’t thank them enough.”

Sharon Sleight, who joined the bed push

Debbie had decided to run the fundraiser back in 2020 to celebrate Weston Park Cancer Hospital’s 50th birthday, but the pandemic put their plans on hold. This year, after talking to her friend Richard, they decided to go ahead with the event.

“Weston Park is close to my heart. A very close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer when he was 58. I watched him go from being six foot five and 20 stone to basically nothing. It was shocking to see him like this”, said Richard.

“Places like Weston Park and the work they do is so important and we need to support them.”

Richard sorted the logistics of the event, making sure the beds were equipped for the long journey. Debbie promoted the event through word of mouth and across social media.

“I couldn’t have organised the event without Richard’s help. There were also many people behind the scenes, like Julie Cann, that helped to ensure the bed push ran smoothly”, Debbie said.

Debbie Cundy and Richard Hepworth at Sheffield Town Hall ready for the bed push

When the bed push event was finalised this year, Richard and Debbie reached out to Sheffield businesses for their support.

Richard Smith, owner of The Eagle and Graze Inn on Ecclesall Road, put Weston Park collection boxes in his restaurant and pub ahead of the event.

“I can only be inspired by the charitable commitment shown by Debbie Cundy. Her efforts for an amazing cause are truly notable. Cancer affects us all and Weston Park needs all our support and love.” said Richard.

Debbie was thankful for the people of Sheffield’s support.

“The generosity and support from the local people and businesses, whether that has been financially or supporting us with flyers or just their time, has been fabulous”, said Debbie. 

“We’re in very challenging times at the moment and it’s fantastic that the people of South Yorkshire and the wider region dig deep they need to.”

Pushing the children’s hospital bed along Ecclesall Road to Endcliffe Park

Since Weston Park Cancer Hospital opened in the 70s, they have supported thousands patients and their families . Money raised through the bed push fundraiser will help the charity continue its research and clinical trials as well as support the patients diagnosed with cancer.

Charlotte Swinhoe, The Fundraising Manager at Weston Park, said: “Debbie is such a valued supporter of Weston Park Cancer Charity, and her efforts have seen her take on many fundraising challenges from skydiving to hosting sunflower competitions. Her passion for the charity shines through, and we can’t thank her enough for all that she continues to do.

“Thanks to fundraisers like Debbie we can keep our promise that we will be there, together at every step, for anyone affected by cancer by providing vital services, advice, therapies, and support. 

“Our help is free, and we’re here for you, together at every step – but only thanks to fundraisers like Debbie.”

Pushing the children’s hospital bed along Ecclesall Road to Endcliffe Park

Debbie has been a fundraiser for Weston Park for 27 years. Her journey with Weston Park started when her work colleague’s son was diagnosed with cancer many years ago. Her office started raising funds for the charity through collection boxes, raffles, and cake sales. 

Over the years, Debbie has taken part in charity cycle rides from London to Paris, across Welsh national parks, and cycled across Scotland. Before the pandemic, she took part in a skydiving fundraiser.

In 27 years, Debbie has raised more than £30,000 for the cancer charity and in 2019 was awarded the Barbara Wragg Award, in the Sheffield Star’s Women of Sheffield Award, for her charity work.

Debbie Cundy, her son Jonathan and his partner Lucy Winkle outside Endcliffe Park

Debbie, said: “In my time of fundraising for Weston Park, I have lost family, close friends, and work colleagues to cancer. Everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with cancer – that is my strong connection to the charity.

“People say to me that the charity work I do is inspiring, but I think of the incredible people I have met over my years of fundraising and their stories. The patients are inspirational, but so are the fellow fundraisers, the cleaners and the catering staff and everyone else that works at the hospital.

“Everyone plays a vital part in the hospital. They are all inspirational.”

You can donate to the Weston Park fundraiser here.

Written by Sophie Watson

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