New mayor joins ‘inspirational’ Joan on her park walk in aid of NHS
PUBLISHED: 16:20 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:20 03 June 2020
An ‘inspirational’ 101-year-old Felixstowe woman was joined by the new town mayor on her walk of a park in aid of the NHS - as her fundraising total nears £18,000.
Joan Rich, a former nurse at Felixstowe Hopsital, has pledged to walk 102 laps of Allenby Park before her 102nd birthday in September.
She had set herself of raising £1,020 for NHS Charities Together – but her challenge has captured the hearts of the community and thousands of pounds of donations have flooded in.
The current total on Joan’s JustGiving page stands at £17,867 and is rising by the day.
Recently-elected Felixstowe town mayor Mark Jepson joined Joan and her daughter Diane, who has been accompanying her on her walks, on Wednesday.
Mr Jepson said: “What Joan has done is fantastic. It really shows how her generation went through a lot of experiences in their lives but they are still selfless.
“It is so warming to hear of this and so many other good stories.”
Joan was born in 1918, months after the Spanish flu outbreak, and has spent half of her life in Suffolk.
She is a proud former employee of the NHS, having worked at Felixstowe Hospital from 1964 to 1978.
And she even served in the Second World War, being posted to Jerusalem - where she ironically lived near a different Allenby Park.
Both parks were named after Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, a British soldier who fought in the First World War.
Wednesday was Joan’s 40th lap of Allenby Park, meaning she has 62 more to complete before her birthday on September 11.
She has been well-supported on her walks, with Captain Sir Tom Moore, who has raised £32.7million by walking laps of his garden, sending a video message.
Fellow Felixstowe residents have also wished Joan well, with Diane recalling how one eight-year-old girl in the park described her mother as an “inspiration”.
And many of Joan’s neighbours have been displaying posters of support in their windows as her challenge continues.
Diane said: “Joan has been doing alright. She still enjoys it and loves being in the park.
“She’s not on the vulnerable list and she loves being outside. The park has a real association with her.”