Norwich couple remember daughter Theresa with 35-year fundraising efforts

Heartsease parents Gerry and Lyn Colk who have been fundraising for twenty five years in memeory of

Heartsease parents Gerry and Lyn Colk who have been fundraising for twenty five years in memeory of their daughter Theresa. Gerry has dyed his beard blue as part of his latest fundraiser. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

It is a legacy of love which has spanned over three and a half decades.

(Left to right) James, Neil and Theresa Colk. Theresa died from Leukaemia at the age of eight. Pictu

(Left to right) James, Neil and Theresa Colk. Theresa died from Leukaemia at the age of eight. Picture: SUBMITTED. - Credit: Archant

And now a Heartsease couple, who tragically lost their daughter to leukaemia when she was just eight years old, are embarking on their latest fundraiser.

Retired boat builder Gerry Colk, 66, and his wife Lyn, 62, recalled the moment when their 'happy girl' Theresa was first diagnosed with cancer.

Mrs Colk, who use to work as a carer, said: 'Theresa was just two years old when I was pregnant with James. The doctors thought she was just being difficult because I was having another baby - but we knew something was wrong.

'She started to get little bruises on her and then we noticed pinprick bruises had started to develop too. That was when she had to have blood tests.

Heartsease parents Gerry and Lyn Colk who have been fundraising for twenty five years in memeory of

Heartsease parents Gerry and Lyn Colk who have been fundraising for twenty five years in memeory of their daughter Theresa. Gerry has dyed his beard blue as part of his latest fundraiser. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

'At first they thought she might be anaemic but the next day they told us it was leukaemia and she had to go to hospital.'

Unknown to the brave toddler, ahead of her was more than five years of treatment at the former Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, based in the north of the city centre on St Stephen's Road.

Most Read

And despite countless treatments Theresa lost her battle with cancer at the age of eight in April 1981.

It was then the couple, who married in 1972, decided to do something in memory of their daughter.

Mr Colk said: 'We have been fundraising for the charity Children with Cancer UK ever since.'

'She was a very happy child and never complained, even when she was ill,' Mrs Colk added. 'She would have wanted something good to have come from this, especially breakthroughs with cancer research.'

From cake bake sales to bric-a-brac stalls, the duo, who are also parents to James, 40, and Neil, 38, have been fundraising for the past 35 years to help raise awareness of childhood cancer.

Last month Mr Colk, an abstract artist, held an exhibition of his papier mâché sculptures at the Virgin Lounge on Davey Place, to help raise money for the charity.

And now he has started to decorate his beard.

Mr Colk has grown his beard for the last six years and recently dyed it purple. He now aims to dye it red down the middle and grow it long enough to braid.

He said it was something fun to do to help the London-based charity. Inaugurated by Princess Diana, until her death in 1997, Children with Cancer UK has its own tragic story.

The O'Gorman siblings, Paul and Jean, fell victim to cancer within nine months of each other. Fourteen-year-old Paul died in February 1987, only nine weeks after his initial diagnosis of leukaemia in 1986, and his sister Jean died just nine months later that November.

Before Paul died he asked his parents, Eddie and Marion O'Gorman, to help other children with leukaemia, and Jean had started to raise those funds in her brother's memory.

Mr Colk is urging people to donate directly to Children with Cancer UK, and to give mention to his own beard-dye fundraiser.

For more information about Children with Cancer UK visit www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter