So – I could say this charity is all about me and my little family. But it’s not. We are just a sorry statistic – another, ‘did you hear about’ story. But you are here, you’ve clicked on my photo, so I probably ought to say something.
Until I was 35 years and 11 months old, I lived the dream. Working class boy, comprehensive school education. Does ok at College, meets ‘a girl’ before getting A Level results. The girl comes from a working class background too, and is beautiful. I liked the girl. So much so, I set up a business with the girl, which involved running up and down ladders with a squeegee and chamois leather instead of going to university. Girl is found up ladders in my home town of Kirton Lindsey in a blizzard in December 1995 helping out. I work out ‘the girl’ is a keeper. Marry the girl in June 1996, aged just 19.
Anna and I had the kind of relationship you read about in silly novels. We didn’t argue and always believed that being angry was a waste of emotional energy. We loved life and travel. Anna left the business first, qualifying as an accountant and worked for the food giant Bakkavor, rising steadily through the ranks. I followed suit, flirting with a teaching career for 3 years before qualifying as a solicitor with a top international law firm. Life was going pretty darn well. Careers on track. We’d bought a house in a town we loved. Then the children came – first, Lucia – in 2010 and then Alessandro in 2012. From the outside, I was the cat who had got the cream.
Just 7 months later, Anna was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
12 months later she was dead.
Since 20 November 2013, I’ve tried to reconcile my faith, my fears and my anger. Irreconcilably.
What I did learn from Anna and her struggle with cancer, was to keep on. Never EVER give up. And I won’t. Our friends never gave up on us.
Dear reader, I ask that you don’t either. Work with us to fight and support and educate.
Like many of us here, I came to be involved in the Team Verrico mission following a stint as trainee in Paul's team at Eversheds. I joined in the midst of the fight, meeting Paul and learning of Anna's illness in January 2013.
Team Verrico, in its infancy, was about raising money for cancer research, providing funds to a research project that may just mean that no one else would face the same battle as Anna. Those more athletic than I planned to run the Isle of Axholme half marathon. For my part, a street collection on the route to drum up support for our cause.
Just days before the run, Anna and Paul received the most devastating news, but instead of hiding away there came a call to arms. I looked at myself and my loved ones and thought how unfair this damned disease was. I resolved to do what I could to ensure others would not have to face the incomprehensible prospect of leaving loved ones behind. In a week, we raised over £15,000 for the University of Sheffield’s research.
When the goals changed and we needed to support Anna's treatment, fundraising ideas come from far and wide. Inspired by Anna's determination, the collective strength and generosity of people over those few weeks was simply amazing. Although for Anna, time was just too short, the battle has not been lost. In Anna’s name, driven by Anna’s strength, the fight is well and truly on.
Anna, Paul and Team Verrico taught me a valuable lesson in 2013: no matter the odds, no matter the obstacles, no matter what, never EVER give up.
Head of Fundraising
I live in Shanghai and spend my days working as Corporate Counsel for Johnson Matthey’s ECT Division in Asia. However, I started my legal career as Paul Verrico’s trainee at Eversheds in Leeds back in 2007. Under Paul’s tutelage I learnt an appreciation for waistcoats and garish coloured ink, in the other words the fundamentals of being a successful solicitor, and we became firm friends.
Then in 2012 I heard the news of Anna diagnosis with cancer. I still recall the shock at hearing this, it seemed unbearably cruel. Like many others I was inspired by Paul and Anna’s resilience and determination to overcome this and protect their young family. Not only that but, typical of Anna’s spirit, they resolved to raise funds to help others overcome cancer. Inspired by their courage and determination I ran the Paris Marathon in April 2012 to pay tribute to them and raise money for cancer research at University of Sheffield.
Then in the late summer of 2013 came the most awful news. Anna’s cancer had returned and the outlook was very bleak. In the face of this adversity Team Verrico was born. The initial aim was to support Paul and Anna and raise funds for her treatment. The response from Anna’s friends, family and the wider community was astonishing. It was clear that Anna had had a tremendous impact on all the lives she had touched. So many people were desperate to try and help her, just as she had helped them.
In the end our efforts were not enough to save Anna but her example remains an inspiration and the motto of Team Verrico “never, ever give up” lives on. I am proud to be a part of Team Verrico as we strive to help those in extremely difficult situations, just as Anna would have done.
Head of Research
Like Paul, and too many others that we know, my beautiful husband also died of cancer. His was a brain tumour, he was 36, and we were never given the hope of his survival.
The truth about cancer is that it may defeat the human body, but it need never defeat the human spirit. Or love. I know this first-hand. And it’s because of this that when I first met Paul via a support group for young widowed folk, and heard his phrase ‘Never EVER give up’, I liked it. A lot. It struck a chord with our outlook through my husband’s cancer, and mine following his death; he never stopped grabbing as much of life as he could, despite the cancer, and subsequently I have been determined that our daughter and I would be shaped, not damaged, by his death – and live life.
So, I didn’t know Anna, but I feel a very strong affinity with the Verrico spirit and attitude. Which is why, when Paul suggested I join the charity, I knew it was something I really wanted to do. I’m a Planning Director for the advertising agency Grey, and have been developing advertising strategies for major brands for over 15 years; so I intend to find ways for Team Verrico’s inspirational message to be heard by more people, to raise more money, and do more good.
For good to come out of tragedy is beautiful.
And if we all help Team Verrico help others to beat cancer, then that’s a pretty good job done.
Head of Marketing
My day job is as a solicitor. I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. I'll have to get back to you on that one.
I met Paul many years ago when I was at Eversheds. Despite our opening conversation amounting to a quiz by Paul to see what my views on a variety of topics were we quickly became good friends. I must have passed the test! Paul introduced me and my now wife Katie to Anna at the pretty fabulous opening night of a club and we all got on famously. Anna and Katie danced the night away whilst Paul and I sat and put the world to rights. We knew that we would be friends for many years to come.
When Katie and I heard about Anna's diagnosis we were stunned. It was so unbelievably unfair. Anna was undoubtedly the nicest, kindest person we have known and she did not deserve to be ill. Anna's courage in the face of such devastating news was amazing. The way in which everyone rallied round was inspirational and showed how loved she was. Anna will not be forgotten and her legacy will be that Team Verrico will help others to achieve the happy endings she was so cruelly denied.
I only met Anna the once, in November 2013, and yes I was dressed as the Bunny, but she was laughing, scared and excited all at the same time, (I think it was more to do with walking out onto the pitch then meeting the Bunny, or I hope so).
I think it sums it all up when both sets of fans (we were playing Accrington and Anna couldn't help but do her 'Accrington! who are they?' joke from the TV ad) gave her an unprompted standing ovation and not a word was spoken when it was explained to a few thousand people why donations were needed. The human tragedy of a fit, beautiful girl with two little kids ravaged by some hideous disease was awful.
I was as utterly shocked as anyone to find out that Anna has died just three days later. I couldn't believe that someone who was laughing with me on the Saturday was gone on the Tuesday night
When Anna's death was announced at the next game, Torquay United, I had the honour of walking out on to the pitch a very special little girl who stood at the centre circle, while the stadium was in silence listening to the announcer explain what had happened, with 22 players and 4 officials in perfect formation - and this little girl whispered in to me 'lets run and kick the ball'. I honestly didn’t know should I laugh cry or just let her.
Where I was going with this is to say with how brave Anna was. I know it has been passed on into the family. One person stunned a community. Team Verrico is part of Scunthorpe United.
Glyn aka SCUNNY BUNNY
I became involved in helping to facilitate raising funds for Team Verrico in the summer of 2013. I sometimes saw Anna in passing when dropping off our children at the same nursery. It was always a quick ‘hello’ and then I didn’t see her for a long time until one day in June 2013, when I didn’t recognize her. The next day she pulled up on the side of the road where I was walking and told me what had happened. We talked for a good while and I remember coming home telling my husband about her, how lovely she was; enigmatic, charming and incredibly beautiful. The passing hello had been broken but I only saw her twice after this, there was no time left.
After losing my sister 11 years ago, under very different circumstances, my compassion for Paul's determination and the Charity is endless. The death of a core part of any family is devastating. Paul's strength and the support he showed his wife in absolute adversity is beyond admirable and a total and constant inspiration to all of the team – which drives us all forward into helping anyone in the same circumstances.
My ‘day job’ consists of commercial property development for a private developer plus all associated finance and property litigation. With work colleagues, a village and of course Anna in common with Paul, I was honoured to be asked, as I am to be part of Team Verrico.
I was born ‘darn sarf’ but moved to Yorkshire at the tender age of 6. My Mum had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and as her parents were in Doncaster it seemed appropriate for us all to move closer to them. She died soon after. This early trauma came back to haunt me years later in the form of depression and I battled with the eating order bulimia throughout my 20’s. A turn of events lead me into the fitness industry at the age of 28 where I have been ever since, although I have only been totally self employed since 2010, before that I had other jobs as well as my fitness stuff. Now I am the Director of two fitness businesses – Isle Lose It Fitness Camps and Taylored To Fitness, both of which I am pleased to say are doing well. My interest lies in HEALTH rather than weight loss and I absolutely LOVE my job.
I also absolutely LOVE the two men in my life, my teenage sons Jordan and Mitchel. As a single parent it can be tough sometimes juggling work and home but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I had the privilege of knowing Anna personally. She was a beautiful, vibrant, intelligent and very fit lady who I had the utmost respect for.
What happened to Anna touched me and the whole community incredibly deeply and when Paul asked me to become part of Team Verrico it was a no brainer.