The stars will turn out for charity walk for Hartlepool’s hospice

Holding a photograph of Kath Miller are (left to right) son Tommy, Daughter Mandy and husband Tommy. Picture by FRANK REID
Holding a photograph of Kath Miller are (left to right) son Tommy, Daughter Mandy and husband Tommy. Picture by FRANK REID

Football stars are backing a poignant charity walk in memory of a popular wife and mum who remained “completely positive” despite her battle with cancer.

The annual fundraising event in Castle Eden Dene is back once again and takes place on May 7 this year, with money going to a Hartlepool cause.

Holding a photograph of Kath Miller are (left to right) son Tommy, Daughter Mandy and husband Tommy, with Hartlepool and district Hospice staff (rear left to right) Bev Playfor, Greg and Julie Hildreth. Picture by FRANK REID

Holding a photograph of Kath Miller are (left to right) son Tommy, Daughter Mandy and husband Tommy, with Hartlepool and district Hospice staff (rear left to right) Bev Playfor, Greg and Julie Hildreth. Picture by FRANK REID

But this year, it will be even more poignant for organiser Tommy Miller as it will be a tribute to his wife Kath Miller, 67, who died last November.

He hailed Kath as “positive to the end. She took everything in her stride.

“She did not sit moping about what she had. She kept positive all the way through. She had a great attitude.”

Kath and Tommy were married for 38 years and had been together for 42 years. Kath was mum to Mandy and to Tommy’s son, also Tommy, who is a former Hartlepool United star.

Kath was positive to the end. She took everything in her stride. She did not sit moping about what she had. She kept positive all the way through. She had a great attitude

Tommy Miller senior

Kath was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2015 and had an operation as well as chemotherapy before an MRI scan in June last year showed she was clear of any signs of cancer.

But the cancer returned and Kath passed away on November 11, last year, at Alice House Hospice.

Kath previously worked as a sewing machinist in Washington. She had also been a volunteer at Alice House Hospice where she worked in the day unit for five years before taking ill.

“She loved it,” said Tommy who organises the walk on behalf of Peterlee and District Lions Club.

Tommy Miller (left) (son) with his dad Tommy (husband) hold a photograph of Kath . Picture by FRANK REID

Tommy Miller (left) (son) with his dad Tommy (husband) hold a photograph of Kath . Picture by FRANK REID

He admitted this year’s walk would be “a tough one but I know this is what she would have wanted and she would want the money to go to the hospice.”

Money is already coming in for this year’s event and more than £1,000 was given in lieu of flowers at the funeral.

“I am looking to try and get between £3,000 and £4,000 this year. Last year, we got £2,500,” said Tommy.

Greg Hildreth, from Alice House Hospice, said: “The Lions walk is a well-established part of our fundraising calendar and everyone who takes part does a fantastic job in supporting Hospice services.

Tommy Miller (left) (son) with his dad Tommy (husband) hold a photograph of Kath . Picture by FRANK REID

Tommy Miller (left) (son) with his dad Tommy (husband) hold a photograph of Kath . Picture by FRANK REID

“This year’s event has a bittersweet poignancy being in memory of the much missed Kath, who was herself a great supporter of the Hospice.

“On behalf of everyone here, I’d like to sincerely thank Tommy and all of Kath’s family and friends, whom I’m sure will make this a special day and a loving tribute to a lovely lady.”

This year, the charity event will be known as the Kath Miller Memorial Walk and has attracted sponsorship from Natural England, Tracey and Peter Webster at the Hearts of Oak in Peterlee, and Liam Dinine of Box Clever in Horden.

The three-mile walk starts from the Hearts of Oak at 10am on Sunday, May 7, with registration from 9.30am.

Anyone wanting to find out more should contact 07970 189681.

The football world has come out in force to give its support.

l Sunderland legend Kevin Ball will be starting the event.

l Others who look set to attend include Craig Hignett, Paul Kitson, Ian Hart, Graham Kavanagh and Kevin Richardson.

l Offers of signed shirts have come from Matt Ritchie, Titus Bramble, Jordan Rhodes, Grant Leadbitter, Lee Cattermole, Fulham Football Club, Coventry City and Blackburn Rovers.

l Brad Groves, the chairman of Spennymoor Town Football Club where both Tommy senior and junior now have links, has promised to support the walk and the team’s players will be taking part.

Tommy senior described the backing as “absolutely brilliant.”

He praised his son Tommy Miller for “really pushing the boat out” to make sure the event was a success.