Friends will take a charity walk for their loved ones

Matthew SparkesTwo friends will take part in a charity walk this summer in memory of their loved ones who were cousins and shared a passion for nursing.Matthew Sparkes

Two friends will take part in a charity walk this summer in memory of their loved ones who were cousins and shared a passion for nursing.

Cousins Linda Walker and Mary Atherton, who both worked as nurses in Norwich, were diagnosed with cancer at around the same time and died within a month of each other.

Mrs Walker died of oesophageal cancer last January, two weeks after landing her dream job as a practice nurse at the Prospect Medical Centre on Aylsham Road.

Her husband Peter Walker, 57, said: 'Her life started again and it was taken away from her. Unfortunately for us it took hold and spread. We had two years of fighting it, but it won in the end.'

The retired BT worker, who lives in Thorpe St Andrew, said that his wife was very independent and was reluctant to let Macmillan nurses into her home at first.

He said: 'There's this whole feeling that if you have Macmillan nurses in the house the means that the end is nigh. I've found out that that's not the case. They come and do a lot more work.'

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Mrs Walker was diagnosed at around the same time as her cousin and fellow nurse, Mary Atherton.

Mrs Atherton had worked at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for over 25 years and died just four weeks after Mrs Walker.

Her daughter Joanne, 32, has since become close to Mr Walker and they will complete the Starlight Walk this year together.

The event, which starts at midnight on June 18, raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support services in Norfolk.

'I want to do it every year now. This is a tradition, to do this for my mum,' she said. 'She nursed people in the same condition, so she knew what she was in for,' she said. She ended up working at the Priscilla Bacon Lodge, that was her dream job. Then she was a patient there,' she said.

Mrs Atherton, who lives at RAF Coltishall, said that the family had a Macmillan nurse to look after her mother and her whole family.

'She was fantastic and had us at ease as a family,' she said.

Are you taking part in the Starlight Walk? Tell us why by calling Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439, or email

For more information on the Starlight Walk or to register to take part, visit, or call 01603 593779.

To see more coverage on the event visit the Evening News at

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