Community rallies round Fife trainee minister’s wife who lost tongue to cancer

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Trainee Church of Scotland ministers have raised nearly £1700 for a charity which provides ongoing support to the wife of a Fife colleague diagnosed with mouth cancer.

Jenny Stark was given the devastating news in December last year, four weeks after giving birth to her second child, Isla.She underwent three operations before having her tongue removed in March.

The procedure has had a profound impact on her ability to eat and speak and she is currently undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

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The mother of two from Cellardyke is married to Ally, and the couple, who are both in their 30s, are parents to four-year old Ruaridh.

Jenny and Ally Stark with their son, Ruaridh.Jenny and Ally Stark with their son, Ruaridh.
Jenny and Ally Stark with their son, Ruaridh.
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Mr Stark is studying Divinity at the University of St Andrews and currently on placement at Howe of Fife Parish Church.

His colleagues were part of a group of 18 people – mostly ministry candidates and probationer ministers – who walked across the Forth Road Bridge and back on Saturday in aid of Maggie's Dundee.

The sponsored walk was organised by Jillian Storrie of Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire who set up an online Just Giving page to raise money for the cancer support charity which continues to support the Stark family and others like them.

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Mr Stark said the love, prayer and support they have received is an "outstanding example" of Christians coming together to "live out their faith and be a light in their communities" during difficult times.

He said: "News of Jenny's diagnosis, especially so soon after Isla's arrival, came as a real shock.

"Initially, I was worried about being able to continue in the immediate term on my calling to ordained ministry.

"We have, however, since experienced the most incredible groundswell of love and support, and from every direction.

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"St Andrews University, Howe of Fife Church, the Church's Faith Nurture Forum, my placement supervisor and those from across many other congregations with which we are connected have all been incredible.

"Their generous flexibility, prayer and support has allowed me to continue on this path during this most difficult of times.

"The practical support of family and friends has also been so wonderful, and continues to get us through."

Mr Stark said he and his wife were "blown away" by the efforts of his colleagues to raise so much money for Maggie's Dundee.

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"It's so affirming to be sharing the road to ministry with such wonderful people and we're just so humbled and in awe of their kindness," he added.

"The amazing sum of money that they have raised will go towards supporting other individuals and their families through their own difficult journeys.”

Jenny has been given an iPad to help her communicate, but she hasn't needed to use it yet because her speech is "remarkable" considering what she's been through.

She is currently just over a week away from finishing chemotherapy and radiotherapy and "continues to amaze" the doctors and everyone she meets.

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Mrs Storrie, 52, said: "Ally is part of my ministry training network group and while prayer support is wonderful, I wanted to do something practical to help the family.

"It was a perfect day, the weather was fantastic, and people loved getting together for a chat after not seeing each other for two years due to COVID-19 and supporting a great cause."

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