Jane Tomlinson CBE

Gatorade Half-Ironman Triathlon 2003

Jane was just 36 when, in August 2000, she and her family received the devastating news she had incurable breast cancer.

A mum of three, Jane was given just six months to live and she and her loved ones were told to prepare for the inevitable.

But, thanks to Jane's remarkable courage, something truly extraordinary was just about to begin.

Showing seemingly endless reserves of determination and courage, Jane set out on a series of incredible challenges - making memories for both her and her family.

Over the next seven years, as she defied her diagnosis, Jane went on to achieve what many people might struggle to in a lifetime - surmounting increasingly difficult challenges, capturing the attention of people across the world, and raising over £1.85m for charity.

She also founded what was to become her lasting legacy, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, which would continue to support scores of causes long after her sad and untimely death. 

A true inspiration

When Jane began her incredible journey, one of her motives was to try to show that people with an incurable cancer diagnosis could still lead active and fruitful lives.

Jane's ethos was: "Death doesn't arrive with the prognosis". And through her unrivalled drive, determination and bravery, she proved true to her word - becoming an inspiration and genuine hope to a great many people.

JANE RECEIVED NUMEROUS AWARDS FOR HER EFFORTS INCLUDING:

  • AN MBE AND, SUBSEQUENTLY, A CBE BY THE QUEEN

  • THE HELEN ROLLASON AWARD AT THE BBC SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARDS IN 2002

  • TWICE RECOGNISED AT THE SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS

  • A GREAT BRITON AWARD

  • VOTED THE MOST INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN IN BRITAIN IN 2003

  • A PRIDE OF BRITAN AWARD IN 2005

In the years following her diagnosis, Jane, from Leeds, took on a series of apparently 'impossible' challenges for someone suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Among the raft of extraordinary feats she achieved was a full Ironman (4km Swim, 180km bike ride, completed by a full marathon), which she finished in less than 16 hours.

 She also undertook two half Ironmans, the London Marathon on three occasions, the New York Marathon, three London Triathlons and three long distance bike rides - John O Groats to Land's End, Rome to Home and her final huge challenge, a 4,500 mile ride across America.

Jane, whose amazing endeavours saw her make headlines across the globe, raised a stunning £1,850,000 for a number of charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Sparks, Damon Runyon Cancer Research, Yorkshire Cancer Centre, Martin House Hospice, Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice and Hannah House, a respite care centre in Leeds for children with complex health needs. 

Sadly, Jane's declining health meant she had to retire from her extraordinary adventures at the end of 2006. 

 

Triathlon

However, using the money she raised on her epic American cycling adventure, Jane used her remaining energies to sow the seeds for the Run For All Leeds 10K - one of the cornerstones of what would become her continuing legacy.

The first event was held in June 2007 and was an amazing success attracting 8,000 participants - unprecedented for a debut event of its kind - raising a staggering £500,000 for charities and good causes.

Jane sadly passed away in September 2007, just two months after proudly welcoming runners across the finish line of the Leeds 10K.

But that would just be the start of Jane's legacy. Today, that one Run For All event has become one of the UK's biggest not-for-profit events companies, hosting up to 13 events across the North and the Midlands.

Each year tens of thousands of people take part to raise funds for a host of charities; the Leeds 10K alone has raised over £4m since its inception for a huge number of causes.

To date, the Appeal has raised almost £8m and given out scores of grants to community groups, children's and cancer charities, making a difference to countless lives.

In addition, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal is also pushing boundaries in funding its own projects, including one which aims to discover whether a new taping technique can help cancer patients.

As a plain-taking and spirited Yorkshirewoman, Jane didn't especially enjoy the limelight that her efforts attracted. She simply considered herself a wife and mother wanting to make the most of a life she knew would, inevitably, end prematurely.

The radiant smile she wore across every finish line - often masking her terrible physical pain - gave comfort, hope and encouragement to thousands.

Thanks to support of people like you, we hope to be able to continue that legacy for many years to come. 

Jane's Fundraising Challenges

 
  • I'm delighted to support the Leeds 10k. Jane, a Sparks vice-president herself, was a truly inspirational figure who became our biggest-ever individual fundraiser.

    Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE
    Four-time Olympic Gold Medallist

    Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE
  • I was lucky enough to call Jane a friend and like many was touched by her determination and drive to make a difference to many millions of people's lives, despite battling with her own cruel illness.

    Steve Cram OBE
    Olympic Silver Medalist

    Steve Cram OBE
  • Jane's unwavering determination, strength courage and selflessness in the face of adversity is an inspiration to each and every one of us. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to play a part in making sure that Jane's memory and legacy lives in the great work of the Appeal

    Chrissie Wellington
    Four time World Ironman Champion

    Chrissie Wellington
  • Jane has led the way on many occasions with inspirational feats that have left us all in awe of her absolute determination and keen desire to help others.

    Nell McAndrew
    Jane Tomlinson Appeal Patron

    Nell McAndrew
  • "It is a huge honour for me to be a patron of Jane Tomlinson Appeal. Jane was such a very special person. Her bravery, courage and strength were a huge inspiration to me  and I am sure to so many others. She fought cancer every step with such passion and positivity."

    Paula Radcliffe MBE

    Paula Radcliffe MBE