Sonia’s love of life inspires huge donation for Cancer Research UK On Christmas Eve, 2010, Mrs Sonia Chiplin of Abergavenny was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma. Sonia had faced bad news before – she had overcome breast cancer in her thirties – but her prognosis this time was different.
Pleural Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and exposure to asbestos is by far the commonest cause. It is almost always fatal. The disease doesn’t usually appear until 30-40 years after exposure and it is possible a young Sonia inhaled the deadly asbestos fibres from her builder father’s work clothes.
But Sonia’s spirit and determination are truly remarkable. On the day she was diagnosed, Sonia and her husband, John Chiplin, had lunch in the Angel Hotel, Abergavenny, and she made clear that Mesothelioma wasn’t going to overshadow what had already been a wonderful life. Sonia and her fabulous family faced the devastating news together and, in characteristic Chiplin fashion, decided to do something that would raise awareness of Mesothelioma, generate funds for Cancer Research UK, and give many people a really great time. That ‘something’ was ‘Rewind, Relive for Research’, a family fun day of live music and entertainment held at Abergavenny Castle last August.
Sonia’s daughter Natalie, who devised and organized the event, said: “I’m sure like many people, when I found out about Mum’s illness, I felt so helpless and just had to try and do something. Before his retirement, my Dad owned the famous Great George pub in Abergavenny and I had often spoken about having a Great George reunion. This was the perfect time to put the wheels in motion. I soon had on board a team of volunteers, close friends and family (who initially thought I was crazy!) and ‘Rewind, Relive for Research’ was born.” Natalie did an astonishing job of organizing the day; attracting bands, solo artists, dancers, sponsors, DJs, MCs and a crowd of thousands – all of whom were thrilled to contribute to this marvellous project. And contribute they did!
‘Rewind, Relive for Research’ raised £19,857.18 for Cancer Research UK and, on Sunday 25 March at Abergavenny Castle, the cheque was presented to Mrs Linda Strange of Cancer Research UK. During the presentation, which was attended by the Chiplin family and many people who supported ‘Rewind and Relive’, Linda Strange said: “The amazing amount raised by this exceptional event is inspirational and will make a difference to cancer sufferers. Cancer Research cannot sufficiently thank Sonia, Natalie, the Chiplin family and everyone who came to Abergavenny Castle last August for ‘Rewind and Relive for Research’. What they have done is important and moving”.
The last word must go to Natalie Chiplin, without whom the event would never have happened: “People came to ‘Rewind and Relive’ from miles away – some even flew over from Australia – and it was lovely to see the effort people made to come on the day. I was also blown away by the generosity of people and local businesses who wanted to get involved – and three I have to mention are Lucy Vickers and Emily and Dave Tulloch from Soundbase UK. I wish I could publicly thank everybody individually, but we would need many, many pages to do so! Just to say, they and we know who they are and I send these kind and generous friends our thanks and love for doing so much for an incredible cause. We will never forget.”
Contribution by Philip Sims