Fundraiser’s tribute to late husband leads to House of Lords honour

Mary Buckley, Shirley Chapman, and Glyn Hardy. Picture: ARCHANT.

Mary Buckley, Shirley Chapman, and Glyn Hardy. Picture: ARCHANT. - Credit: Archant

When Shirley Chapman started raising funds for Kidney Cancer UK as a tribute to her husband who died from the condition, she did not realise it would lead to a special dinner at the House of Lords – and romance.

CHARITY: Shirley Chapman with her flowers

CHARITY: Shirley Chapman with her flowers - Credit: Archant

Shirley, from St Ives, had supported charities over the years, including Dreamdrops the local children’s medical charity, and was fundraising for the Youth Cancer Trust when her husband, Ray, became ill.

After his death in 2014 she decided to switch to fundraising for Kidney Cancer UK where she met charity administrator John Chapman whose wife Denise had died a few months before Ray.

A friendship blossomed and the couple were married over a year ago.

Shirley holds an annual curry lunch fundraiser as well as a Shirley’s Coffee Shop at St Ives Corn Exchange on Wednesdays and a tombola there on Mondays.

Now Shirley has been presented with a bouquet of flowers to recognise her work with the charity at a dinner in the House of Lords.

She was stunned when charity founder James Whale, the broadcaster who suffered from kidney cancer, asked her to stand up.

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“It was a complete surprise to me and it was nice that both my daughters Lorraine Waters and Debbie Honey were there,” she said. “It was an experience you don’t really get.”

Shirley said it was pleasing that her work had been recognised, but added: “I couldn’t do it without the volunteers I have got. This is as much for them as it is me.”

She said she wanted to raise awareness of kidney cancer after Ray’s death and was sent to Kidney Cancer UK where she met John.

“We were just grieving together to start with, but after 18 months realised there was something more to it and we got married,” she said.

John said he had a meeting with Shirley because she wanted to help the charity: “We just became grief-buddies and went to various places together but after a while realised something else was going on and that was it.”

He said Shirley was “very, very good” at fundraising for the charity.