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Athletics - 14. September 2007.

Inspirational Jane Tomlinson Passes Away.

Report and photos John Coxon

The funeral has taken place today of Jane Tomlinson at St Anne's Cathedral in Leeds. Hundreds of mourners watched the funeral Mass on big screens in the city's Millennium Square ; there were spontaneous applause from the crowds outside the cathedral as the cortege arrived, and some mourners threw flowers into the road. Jane Tomlinson died in St Gemma's Hospice, Leeds , Monday, having fought terminal cancer for the past six years .

photo John Coxon


Mother of three , Jane had been diagnosed with advanced metastatic breast cancer in August 2000 and then given six months to live and yet over a seven year period, fought through numerous courses of chemotherapy and various drug regimes (despite also developing chronic heart disease) and yet inspired so many by chosing to live the remainder of her life to the full in a series of awe inspiring sporting challenges and at the same time raising funds for charity.

Jane was in constant pain and frequently very ill, and yet , while undergoing chemotherapy treatment, she embraced life full on , taking on a full Ironman ,completed inside 17 hours, two half Ironmans, the London Marathon three times, the New York Marathon, three London Triathlons and three long distance bike rides – John O Groats to Lands End, stopping twice for chemotherapy, Rome to Home ( both with her brother ) and her final huge challenge a 6781.8 km gruelling bike ride across America.

Jane received a number of awards during her fight astonishing with cancer , receiving the MBE and later CBE from the Queen , and in 2003 , The Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards and was to be twice recognised at the Sportswoman of the Year Awards. She earned a Great Briton Award and was voted most Inspirational Woman in Britain in 2003 and received the Pride of Briton Award in 2005. In recognition of her efforts, the laboratory at Cancer Research UK 's Clinical Centre at St James's Hospital in Leeds, was re-named the Jane Tomlinson Laboratory in May 2003.

According to husband, Mike, Jane was determined to show that despite a terminal illness prognosis it is still possible to lead a full and active life and she inspired and brought hope to many people as well as raising over a staggering million and a half pounds through sport for such chariities as Macmillan Cancer Relief, SPARKS, Damon Runyon Cancer Research, Yorkshire Cancer Centre, Martin House Hospice, Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice and Hannah House.

Jane is pictured here at the 2006 Salford World Cup Triathlon watching husband Mike and their fundraising team competing in the all age group race when she was not well enough to compete herself. It was at the end of last year that she finally became too ill to compete but she threw her last energies into inspiring and helping to develop the the Leeds 10k 'Run For All'which took place for the first time this year in June and attracted some 8,000 participants.

During the funeral service Jane's priest, Father Patrick Smythe, told the 450-strong congregation that love and happiness featured in all parts of her life. He said: "Her gladness shone out of her radiant smile... anyone facing difficulties in life found encouragement in her determination, in her indomitable spirit". Amen.

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