A CHUDLEIGH woman has embarked on a series of gruelling challenges, all in memory and support of Fletcher Discombe, a child from Kingsteignton who tragically lost his life to cancer.
From working in the RAF’s air traffic control to spending decades on the front line of South Devon’s police, Jacqueline Rees has always relished a challenge.
In 2022, Fletcher Discombe, the son of two long-time friends and neighbours of Jacqui, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
After months of brutal treatment, Fletcher lost his battle with cancer, passing away in November 2022.
Upon hearing the tragic news, Jacqui decided to embark on a fresh set of even more ambitious challenges in memory of Fletcher and in support of Fletcher’s Arc and Alice’s Arc: linked charities dedicated to funding research into cancer treatments for children.
Naturally, Jacqui started by running a marathon. ‘I’ve never run a marathon,’ said Jacqui, ‘I only had six weeks to prepare, I can’t say I did a brilliant time, but I still jogged the whole thing. I twisted my ankle badly before as well.’
After the marathon, Jacqui went on to Summit Pen y Fan in Wales, followed by the most gruelling of the challenges: The Peak District Challenge. Here, Jacqui traversed 100km over two days, whilst recovering from a chest infection as well as severe blisters.
Jacqui said: ‘I never get ill usually, but I’ve been dogged with injuries throughout these challenges! I just had to grit my teeth and get going.’
In addition to the challenges, Jacqui’s ex-partner, who worked as security for Harry Kane, told the footballer about Fletcher. Kane decided to donate a signed shirt for auction to raise additional funds.
On her efforts, Jacqui said: 'I came on board because I wanted raise awareness with the people that matter, the people that can make a difference.
'It’s about raising that awareness to parents and to GPs that it’s important to go that little bit further rather than overlooking what might be something different. It might not change the outcome but it might change the odds.'
As all money went directly to the fundraiser, it’s difficult to know just how much Jacqui’s challenges made for Fletcher’s Arc. But with the fundraiser sitting at £3.5k and Kane’s jersey yet to go to auction, Jacqui’s efforts are sure to make a difference.
Tony Discombe, Fletcher’s father, said: ‘We, as a family, have been blown away by the efforts of friends, family and strangers to raise awareness and funds towards research for childhood cancers. We are incredibly grateful to fundraisers like Jackie who have dedicated time and effort towards our cause.’