How it all began

Photographed John Warwick

Joan Warwick's husband John was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2002. In October, he went into Darent Valley Hospital (DVH) where he spent the next 7 months, only going home for short periods. He underwent five operations and throughout his stay in DVH he was given the best possible care and kindness. Sadly, John lost his battle with cancer on 23 April 2003.

Joan and her family wanted to thank the hospital for all the care given to John and decided to organise a sponsored walk and fun day in John’s memory with all the monies raised going to the hospital.

On 13 July 2003, 30 people did a sponsored walk in John memory. They walked seven laps of the hospital grounds, one lap for each month John had spent in hospital.

The fun day started with Joan's granddaughters releasing 50 balloons while family and friends ran a variety of stalls. The day was advertised in the local papers and on posters, which were delivered by hand around the local area. Family, friends and local people supported the day and raised £5,330.

Following this success, it was realised that there was a lot that could be done with the funds raised. The Warwick family received a great deal of comfort from this, which gave them the idea that other families may also like to take part in a day remembering a loved one.

In July 2004, the first Stride4Life was held and at the same time the hospital opened the Cancer Fighting Fund

Photographed Joan Warwick

In 2009, Joan Warwick was awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace for her charitable services to Darent Valley Hospital, having raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for our Cancer Fighting Fund.

Joan has said that she was amazed to get an MBE.

“I could not believe it. I do not raise the money to get any kind of personal recognition, but I’m very proud to be given this award.

The grandmother-of-two, who spends two days a week at the hospital collecting money, says she was “overwhelmed” when receiving her honour.  She says her son Michael  and granddaughters Ellie and Amy, who take part in Stride4Life every year, are “very proud” of her. 

Joan Warwick and her sister Carol Woodgates, continue to volunteer their time generously all year round, with the support of their families and the Stride4life Committee to ensure this annual event is a huge success, and raises as much as possible to support cancer services at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.