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Family complete charity challenge in memory of beloved grandmother

By Jordan Reynolds | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A family who took on a charity challenge in memory of a woman who lived through two world wars have almost quadrupled fundraising target.

Jenni is pictured right, with Vicky Lavery and her son Finley, aged seven, and cyclists husband Will Smith, Roger Prenter-Jones and Alex Lasseter

Mary Taylor, from Horseley Fields in Wolverhampton, helped raise more than £1 million for the city's Cancer Research branch – which she set up.

And now her family have raised around £4,000 for Compton Care where she received care before she died on March 30, three months before her 105th birthday.

Jenni Smith, her granddaughter, ran 105 miles throughout June with her best friend Leanne, while her husband Will cycled the distance on the day for the Wolverhampton-based charity.

The trio were joined by more friends who also wanted to get involved in Mary’s memory.

Jenni Smith with husband Will who joined her in the challenge

Runners Vicky Lavery, Emma Dutton and Anne Marie Mountford, all from Staffordshire, decided to run the 105 miles, while cyclists Alex Lasseter from Lancashire, Stefano Drakopoulos from Manchester and Roger Prenter-Jones and Finley Bromley, aged seven, from Staffordshire joined Will to cycle the distance.

The cyclists took on a total of 1,050 miles throughout June as part of the challenge.

Jenni said: “It has been a tough challenge for us all as we juggle our commitments to the challenge with work, shift patterns, childcare and all the other stresses and strains of life during lockdown.

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“Whilst we have all experienced times throughout this challenge when the going got tough and we have had to ‘dig deep’, the cause and the amazing work the staff do at Compton has kept us going.

"The increasing donations and continued positive comments have spurred us on and we are all so proud to run in our Compton Kit. I end up telling random strangers that I pass during my runs on Cannock Chase what we are doing and that has unbelievably led to several donations.

“I think Nan would be amazed at all the support this has raised. Some have donated in memory of her, others specifically to support Compton. Each penny that people have given has been the continued inspiration for us to just keep going. Whatever people’s reasons are for donating I am sure that Nan is looking down and is very proud of what we have achieved.”

Founder Mary Taylor

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Mary, one of seven children, was the last remaining daughter of William and Sarah Gough of the well-known William Gough and Sons Limited, construction specialists in the city.

She worked in various posts for Manders and Ductile Steel, before marrying her husband, John, in 1939 who enlisted in the army due to the Second World War.

Mary worked at Banks's Brewery and managed night-shifts at New Cross Hospital as a Red Cross voluntary aid detachment, tending to injured soldiers from Poland and Holland.

She had a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1950 and set up the Wolverhampton branch of Cancer Research in 1958 after her brother died from cancer.

In the 1960s and 1970s she worked at the Municipal Grammar School and started volunteering at West Park Hospital in 1980.

Later she joined Compton Care, then called Compton Hospice, where she volunteered for 25 years. Mary even opened up her home to one of Compton's doctors, Dr Ben Ritzenthaler, in the early 90s following the death of her husband.

Jenni added: “My nan has always been so incredibly strong, and we have always been extremely close.

"She had the most caring nature and beautiful spirit and always left a huge impression wherever she went and would put the welfare of others before herself. She was so loved by us all and her joy for life was infectious.

“We felt it very fitting to use her 105 fabulous years to set our milestones, both physically and financially."

To donate to Jenni’s fundraiser visit justgiving.com/fundraising/jennifer-smith98

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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