BETHAN Morris was only six when her mum Michele died of a rare form of cancer — but she knows she would have been proud to see her take part in this month’s Race for Life.

The 17-year-old will join an estimated 9,000 women for the Cancer Research UK run at Oxford’s University Parks on June 26 to play her part in the battle against the disease.

The Cherwell School sixth-form student lost her mother in June 2000 to paraganglioma, which affects only an estimated 12 people in the world each year.

She had been ill for two years but lost her battle aged just 42 when tumours grew around her heart and lungs.

The Marston resident said: “I think my mum would have been proud that I am taking part in Race for Life.

“It is the kind of event she would have taken part in and I like to think she might know I am doing it, somehow.”

The teenager will run with her friends and join a sea of determined women, many of whom will wear pink to symbolise their determination to fight cancer. She said: “We are really looking forward to the atmosphere and knowing we are doing something to help find a cure for cancer, as the disease takes so many people away from their families, including my mum.”

When Bethan was 11, she hit the headlines when she entered dad Alistair in The Sun’s Mum of the Year competition. She said her dad had taken on the role of both parents to care for her and younger brother Callum, now 15. He made the final and finished a runner-up.

The 50-year-old grounds maintenance worker for Oxford University Parks department said: “I am very proud that Bethan is entering Race for Life.

“It was entirely her idea and it’s lovely to think she will be doing this for people who are still suffering from cancer.”

He said: “Michele died of something she shouldn’t have when she was far too young and was heartbroken to leave the children. Unfortunately, they have had to cope without the most important person in their lives. But even though I know that I cannot change that, I have tried to offer them consistency and security and I hope they will continue to grow up okay.

“I am very proud of both Bethan and Callum and I know Michele would have been too, and come Race for Life, I will be there cheering Bethan on for both of us.”

Participants run, walk or jog 5km and last year 6,342 Oxfordshire women raised £363,555. Organisers hope 9,300 women will raise £673,000 this year with the two Oxford races combined.

Another Race for Life event will take place at Broughton Castle, near Banbury, on Saturday, July 30. Volunteers are sought for both to distribute leaflets and posters before races and help on the day. Visit or call 0871 6411111 to take part.