For Tracy Williams, the Jingle Bell Jog signals the start of Christmas. Here, she tells us her favourite moments from the festive fun run and how it’s become a family tradition to remember Mum and Dad.

For me and my family, the Jingle Bell Jog kickstarts our Christmas celebrations. We’ve been taking part in the festive fun run since 2014 and it has quickly become a much-loved family tradition.

Everyone gets involved, including my husband, three children, my aunt, my uncle and my two sisters with their families – a grand total of 13. The first time I completed the course, my youngest son was just eight weeks old and in a sling. This year, he’ll be running alongside me as I struggle to keep up!

The atmosphere at the jog is always fantastic. Everyone seems to be having fun and getting into the festive spirit, whether they’re dressing up in their Santa suits or deservedly tucking into mince pies as they finish. My favourite part is always crossing the finish line whilst holding my children’s hands – it’s feels brilliant to achieve something as a family!  

I first decided to take part in the Jingle Bell Jog after my Dad was cared for and supported by Birmingham St Mary’s. I’ll never forget the moment when I found out he was terminally ill. He went to the doctors after feeling forgetful and was then sent directly to A&E where he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After an operation to remove it was unsuccessful, he was sadly given just two weeks to live.

That’s when Dad was transferred to the Inpatient Unit at the Hospice. I didn’t really know what a hospice did before he got ill. I imagined it to be a very clinical place but I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was so welcoming and friendly, so peaceful and calm.

With the Hospice’s help, my Dad’s condition improved. But whilst his symptoms started to stabilise, my family were handed a second piece of devastating news – Mum had pancreatic cancer. Finding out that both Mum and Dad were terminally ill was just heart-breaking.

Thankfully, the Hospice was there for us every step of the way. As Mum’s battle was getting harder to fight, the Hospice made it possible for Dad to go home and spend some precious time with her. She sadly passed away two days later but having that time together meant so much to them both, as well as the rest of the family.  

Supported by the Hospice, Dad was able to attend Mum’s funeral. It was one of the hardest days of my life, saying goodbye to Mum and knowing that I was soon to say goodbye to Dad too.

It was only two months after losing Mum that Dad passed away. It was tough and I simply wouldn’t have been able to cope without the Hospice’s support. The care and compassion that the doctors and nurses showed our family was second to none – it was incredible. They moved mountains to comfort us all. The staff seemed to have an amazing way of knowing exactly what we needed, when we needed it – even before we realised it ourselves – which is why our family decided to do something and give a little something back.

For us, the Jingle Bell Jog is a wonderful way to pause, reflect and remember Mum and Dad at Christmas. At this time of year, our thoughts tend to turn to loved ones, so it’s nice to be able to celebrate and remember them in a unique way. We’ve already signed up to do the jog this year and I can’t wait to cross the finish line with my family in memory of Mum and Dad.

Thank you Tracy for sharing your story with us. If you want to join us for our Jingle Bell Jog, you can sign up here.