City that holds many memories - by Paul Verrico

Paul Verrico with Pete Wallroth, founder of Mummy's Star and Simon Hancox, founder of Annabel's Angels with their respective new partners Fleur, Hannah and Sue.
Paul Verrico with Pete Wallroth, founder of Mummy's Star and Simon Hancox, founder of Annabel's Angels with their respective new partners Fleur, Hannah and Sue.

Last month, I learned a lot about the human spirit.

You know my story. I have many fond memories of Lincoln. It is awash with my own history. I met an 18-year-old Anna King there 20 years ago. First kiss. Courtship. We got married there. Cleaned windows together there. Anna’s mum, dad, brother, sister all still live there. I did my first degree there. Won law competitions there which paved the way for me getting the dream job at Eversheds.

I confess I’ve avoided the place as much as possible since November 20, 2013. I’ve not been back to Anna’s family home since she died. Some realities are too hard.

The Lincoln 10k holds similar memories that are bathed in pathos. In March 2009, Anna and I ran it together. It was the last organised charity fundraising event (we were running for Lindsey Lodge Hospice) we did together before Lucia came along. We certainly didn’t expect it to be the last.

I was invited back to this year’s event by my friends Simon Hancox, Pete Wallroth and Andy King. All are fellow widowers. All lost their wives far too soon to cancer. All fought back. Simon set up a cancer charity, ‘Annabel’s Angels’, which helps women in the Derby areas affected by the big C. Pete runs ‘Mummy’s Star’ - the only charity in the country that specifically helps pregnant women with cancer. Andy runs ‘Screw Cancer’ which raises money for St Barnabas Hospice. We all came to know one another, following our loss, after joining a new online forum, set up by author Benjamin Brooks-Dutton. The aim of this was to give male widowers a place of safety, friendship and common ground. Male widowers prior to this had found it difficult to receive support and, so, were usually left alone.

How do you turn down an opportunity to show solidarity with these brave men who have stuck their chins out and said to life ‘throw what you want at me, I shall fight on’?

You don’t.

I was joined by my partner, the beautiful Fleur Binnington, founder of ‘Binny’s Babes’ - a charitable fundraising group which has raised over £25k in the last 12 months for the Christie Cancer charity and Marie Curie. Another widow far too young. The numbers personally are mostly immaterial – a new 10k personal best of 53:28 was satisfying, but the most important thing was honouring Anna’s memory in the best way possible – fighting back against this deadly disease and giving other folk a better chance.

So what have I learned? If you are doing something with your life partner this weekend, just have in mind the rather sobering thought that this could be the last time you do that thing together. Put petty squabbles to one side. Love life. Live it. We are Team Verrico. We don’t EVER give up. We bring hope where there is none. We are brave. We face down our demons and vanquish them. But we do it best when we have those around us who exhibit similar bravery and keep on, keeping on. And, if, on the off chance you fancy supporting us at an event or doing a sponsored something, give us a shout! teamverrico@gmail.com