A 63-year-old woman from Longhoughton is to zip-slide off Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge to raise funds for two causes that are close to her heart.
Jen Miller’s husband Bernard, known as Dusty, who was a Royal Northumberland Fusilier and a veteran of the Aden Emergency, passed away 18 months ago at the age of 73.
The couple had only been married for seven years and for five of those, Jen was caring for Dusty after a stroke.
“At the end, he was fighting two forms of cancer, a stroke and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), but he never stopped smiling,” she said.
In recent years, Jen has carried out other fund-raising events such as sponsored swims, but on Saturday, she will leap from the Tyne Bridge and slide across the river to support HospiceCare North Northumberland and Forward-Assist.
“HospiceCare North Northumberland looked after him on Friday afternoons and provided me with counselling when he passed away,” she said.
“The fund-raising is a way of saying thank you for their support.”
The involvement with Forward-Assist, a charity which supports former servicemen and women experiencing difficulties in adjusting to civilian life, is a more in-depth story.
Due to Dusty’s ill health, a boat which he owned had lain unused and uncared-for in a field near RAF Boulmer for five years before he and Jen donated it to the charity and About Turn CIC in July 2013.
About Turn CIC is a group which takes veterans out sea fishing and Dusty wanted his boat to be put to good use helping other veterans enjoy the sport he loved.
A project to renovate the boat, now named DustyJen after the couple, has seen it brought back into use and painted in the colours of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.
It has also been decorated with the logos of the regiment, Forward-Assist, About Turn CIC, International Paints and Sage (UK). The latter two provided support through sponsoring the renovation project and helping to transport and store the boat respectively.
That project was completed in November 2013 and the funds raised now go to provide equipment to ensure veterans can use the boat. “The boat is a way of keeping his memory alive,” Jen said.
Referring to the zip-slide, she added: “I have done things like it before, but many years ago when I was much younger. This will be the last time because I have arthritis now.”
To sponsor Jen, go online to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JeniferMiller (for the DustyJen boat project) orjust giving.com/jenmillerzipslide (for HospiceCare North Northumberland).