Sarah Dennis outside Cirencester Parish Church
TWO of the Cotswolds' most well-known churches will be bathed in purple light as part of a woman’s crusade to raise awareness of the disease that killed her father.
Sarah Dennis, of West Hay Grove, Kemble, has ensured that Cirencester Parish Church and Kemble Church will be flying the flag for Pancreatic Cancer UK on Sunday, November 1 as part of the charity’s national Purple Lights for Hope campaign.
Both churches will take on a striking purple complexion for the night to raise awareness of the disease which is Britain’s 10th most common cancer, but its fifth most deadly.
Pancreatic cancer is not a well-known disease in Britain, but it is a particularly dangerous type of the disease because its symptoms are often confused for regular stomach pains, meaning it can be diagnosed when it is too late.
Sarah lost her father, John Dennis, to pancreatic cancer in July 2013 after he was diagnosed a year earlier.
“Before he had the condition we knew very little about it,” Sarah said. “Now I’m on something of a crusade to get people talking about it.”
Purple Lights for Hope was launched last year, with Gloucester Cathedral among the famous landmarks being lit-up, but Sarah was away travelling so could not participate.This year, however, she is going all out.
On Saturday, October 31, the day before the churches take on their new look, Sarah and her mother Sue will be holding an awareness day in Cirencester with stalls to be set-up outside the parish church and in Bishops Walk.
Sarah has stressed that the team of volunteers, including a number of Rotarians and Soroptimists, are there to raise awareness first and take donations second.“The response from the churches has been really positive, I think at first they were a bit surprised because it’s an unusual request.
“Since then we’ve been doing our best to round up local support. We are not asking people for money but asking local businesses if they could help to get people talking.
“People have really caught on to it and got really involved.
“Not everyone has been affected by pancreatic cancer, but everyone has been affected by cancer in one form or another.
“It seems to have struck a chord.”Sarah has secured the backing of almost 50 businesses including RJ Holmes Opticians, in Castle Street, which has offered to donate the profits from repairs made to customers’ spectacles, to the charity.
Anyone who wants to help out on the day or donate money can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.