It is with great sadness that we have had to say goodbye to our lovely friend and fellow Bitton Road Runner, Kath O’ Connell - who was the longest standing member of BRR, having joined the newly formed ‘Bitton Puffers’ in the second week of its life in 1986
Kath was in her 40’s when she started running with Bitton, but her determination and her cheerful personality made her the best running companion. In her day, she ran many events including numerous half-marathons and 10ks and a full marathon in London. Training runs were always eventful and enjoyable and those long runs helped forge friendships that have lasted a lifetime. It was often mentioned that if there was less talking and more focus on the running then times would be improved!
Kath was probably the most well-known member of the club, having dedicated the last 30+ years to BRR. She was secretary for most of this time, only relinquishing the job in recent years - and was the first person we all met when we entered the club. She would welcome new members, making sure they were buddied-up and had someone to run with - and she must have taken thousands of pounds in 50ps over the years. She always had a cheery smile, even when life wasn't treating her so well.
About 10 years ago, Kath was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine check. Although this rocked her world she was determined to remain cheerful and conquer the disease. Following treatment Kath had a number of years in remission and although she never returned to running she was able to enjoy her other passions - walking with Terry her husband, a rambling group and the girls on a Thursday night. She loved to dance and in particular loved country music. Terry and Kath would often travel great distances to meet friends and dance on a Saturday night which they kept up until quite recently. She was an active member of the WI and would organise events and trips. She was an amazing flower arranger and her garden always looked beautiful. Kath loved to shop and always looked so stylish.
Last year Kath learned that the cancer had returned and this time it was in her liver and bones. She underwent severe treatment with quite aggressive chemotherapy and although she was in pain at times and felt fatigued she still made it to the club on a Tuesday and Thursday when she could, to collect the 50ps and to check in with everyone with a cheery smile. Recently Kath started to look much better and her new ‘Annie Lennox’ look was amazing - we were all so hopeful. So, it was with enormous sadness that we learnt that the cancer had taken hold once again and she had to start the chemo once more. This time she reacted very badly to the chemo and was admitted to hospital where she was diagnosed with Sepsis. Sadly, Kath lost the battle during the night of Saturday 18th February Terry and her daughter Julie were with her.
Kath had 3 beautiful grandchildren - Amelia, Callum and Ethan, all of whom she was incredibly proud.
Words cannot express the sadness we all feel now. There will be a huge gap in the club, but we must remember the legacy she left - that of positivity, hard work and commitment to Bitton Road Runners. She was a dear friend and we will remember her often.
Kath, we miss you - Rest in Peace.
Kath's funeral will be on Monday 27th February at 2.45 in Westerleigh.