Here at Sainsbury's in Alton, Hampshire, we decided to raise funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research following the devastating loss of our colleague, Gareth Knight.
Gareth had been fighting acute myeloid leukaemia for 8 months and lost his battle in April 2013. Gareth had married his fiancée Hannah only the day before he sadly passed away. On hearing of his illness, store colleagues and management immediately wanted to do something as a tonic for Gareth. Gareth's wife Hannah had asked us to support for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and just after Christmas the store arranged for a sponsored climb of the Classic Snowdon Horseshoe with Gareth in a support role. Sadly this was not to be…
Gareth and Hannah met at Sainsbury's ten years ago whilst working on the delicatessen and meat counters. Over time and ‘cheese’ on the counter, he and Hannah fell in love and they got engaged last year. They had planned to elope to Wales to marry as they had happy memories of time spent there. However, Gareth fell ill and was diagnosed in late August 2012. Supported by Hannah, he underwent treatment, but his prognosis was not good. This meant that he and Hannah decided to bring their wedding forward and they married on 28th April this year at the Hospital in Basingstoke. Gareth was buried in the churchyard at East Worldham close to where he and Hannah made their home. His funeral was attended by over 80 colleagues from the store and region, a mark of just how popular a guy he was.
The Snowdonia event was particularly poignant as Gareth loved Wales and enjoyed taking part in outdoor activities. He had been part of a charity event a few years ago when store colleagues completed a sponsored cycle ride in Wales to raise funds for the Salvation Army, although his bike looked like something your mum would ride to the shops and he had worn a skateboarders helmet!
On 29th June, 19 colleagues from our Alton, Farnborough and Kempshot stores took part in the climb of the Classic Snowdon Horseshoe in mist and bad weather, to reach the summit in 3hours. Once at the summit, they toasted Gareth with Coke bottles with his name on!
Meanwhile at the store in Alton, we hung a huge map of the climb, made by Judith Gibbs, charting the progress of the group and various fundraising activities including a raffle and face painting. Store customers all took time to look at the map and each and every one was touched by Gareth's story, meaning that to date we have banked £2500 in Gareth’s memory, with much more to come through sponsorship payments.
In October this year, Gail Davis HR Manager at Sainsbury's in Alton, will be doing the Great South Run to raise even more money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and colleagues at the store will be planting a magnolia tree in his memory in the grounds of the store, this will them bloom every spring to remind us all of Gareth.