Thoughtful Polly saves Beat the Bus in husband’s memory

The start of 'Beat the bus' in Otterton. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 7552-26-12TI To order your copy

The start of 'Beat the bus' in Otterton. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 7552-26-12TI To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on myphotos24 - Credit: Archant

A long-time supporter of a Sidmouth cancer charity, who lost her husband to the illness, has single-handedly saved the Beat the Bus race.

Polly Wood, of Harpford, saw the appeal by the organisers in last week’s Herald and donated the £500 in memory of her husband, John.

Mr Wood died in January this year at the age of 78, after being diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

The Beat the Bus race raises money for Sidmouth Living With Cancer, a group that Mrs Wood has been a member of for the past 12 years.

Bill Lankester, of the charity, said he was surprised when he opened an envelope containing the donation.

“She put £500 in an envelope and pushed it through the door. I thought it was my birthday card,” he said.

“It is such a kind thing for her to do. It will enable us to stage the race.”

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Mrs Wood said: “We didn’t go to many Sidmouth Living With Cancer functions or meetings, but we have always been close to Bill and Evelyn because I was a cancer sufferer for some 30 years and my husband suffered for three years.

“I just wanted to do something for the group. I saw the article last week in the Sidmouth Herald. I thought that it is a good idea to do it.”

The race’s future looked uncertain after recent public transport cuts meant that organisers would have to raise £500 themselves.

Organisers appealed for sponsors to come forward last week, after Devon County Council axed the 157 bus service from Otterton to Sidmouth. Runners would try to beat the service over a nine kilometre costal run.

Sidmouth Living With Cancer stepped forward with their mini bus but money was still needed to cover the cost of running the event.

Bill Valentine, the race organiser, said: “It is incredible that somebody would come forward. I was just amazed that one person would do that; £500 is a lot for one individual. It’s full steam ahead - all we want now is the runners.”

Beat the Bus will take place on Wednesday, June 24, with a junior race starting at 6.30pm, followed by the adult race at 7pm. Email for a entry form.