THOUSANDS turned out to see cancer survivors take on a 24- hour relay challenge for charity.

A total 300 people took part in the Relay for Life in Garon Park, Southend, in aid of Cancer Research UK and Southend Hospital’s cancer unit.

Teams took shifts from noon on Saturday until noon yesterday, to complete the walk around the athletics track, with many donning fancy dress.

The fundraisers were cheered on by friends and family’s words of encouragement and kept entertained by music and DJ Su Harris from Heart Essex on the main stage.

As night fell, the crowds took part in the Candle of Hope ceremony, lighting candles around the track with messages in memory or celebration of loved ones.

Shirley Chaplain, 65, of Hilltop Avenue, Hullbridge, was diagnosed with terminal myeloma in December 2012.

She joined in the relay surrounded by friends and four generations of her family.

She said: “I did the relay for the first time last year when I was going through treatment.

“The cancer destroyed my hip completely and I had to have it replaced. I went through eight months of chemo which made me lose my hair and left me with no immune system.

“My hair’s grown back now, but when I told my grandchildren what was going to happen, they bought me an electric blue wig to wear.

“To others, please never give up as one day theywill have to find a cure.

“People need to make sure they still have a social life, not just with people who have cancer who can be a great support, but with others too. When you’re having a bad day take it easy, but when you are having a good day, you have to go for it.”

The annual event has raised £100,000 in six years.

Kieran Meikle, event chairman, said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic and the weather has been beautiful.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has come out to take part and support Cancer Research.

  •  To get involved with next year’s Relay For Life for Cancer Research, visit www.southend or call 07801 421745.