Poignant Christmas Day fundraiser in memory of much loved journalist Stephen Wilkie
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Stephen Wilkie passed away on December 25 last year after a diagnosis of terminal liver cancer. He was just 57 years old.
Now his wife, Irina is set to pay tribute to her husband by hiking a half marathon around the circumference of the beautiful RSPB reserve at Loch Leven on Christmas Day, accompanied by her Labrador called Bear. Over £3000 has already poured into her online fundraiser, and all donations will go to Maggie’s Fife which offered them support during Stephen’s cancer journey.
The couple, who stay in Kinglassie, were private people who drew strength from each other after Stephen’s diagnosis in the summer of 2021. He was a hugely respected journalist - a towering figure in newsrooms across Scotland, including the Daily Record, Scottish Sun - where he was a fearless crime reporter - The Herald, Daily Express, News Of The world and and latterly The Scotsman.
Stephen mentored countless reporters and his remarkable breadth of knowledge - he was dubbed the “Wilkipedia” - meant he was simply never wrong about any story or fact.
“A giant of a man; veteran journalist with a fierce intellect; an acerbic wit; unashamed pedant; and a genuinely good man with a generous heart who I loved very dearly,” wrote Irina on her fundraising blog.
And she explained why she will spend Christmas Day clocking up the equivalent of a half marathon in his memory.
“How do you survive losing the love of your life? I don’t quite know but my husband would be bloody furious if I didn’t at least try and put up a fight,” she wrote. “I lost him on Christmas Day. He didn’t get to open his presents. I hope people will understand why I, therefore, cannot celebrate this Christmas - and I can’t do grief either. Grief isn’t tears and heartbreak but an actual physical assault.
“So, I have resolved to outmanoeuvre grief and pay tribute to my husband by hiking a half marathon. We will bag the 13.1mile circumference of the beautiful RSPB reserve at Loch Leven and raise money for Maggie’s, as Stephen had wished. And we will complete it as the sun goes down, marking exactly one year since Stephen passed.”
Irina’s fundraiser can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/page/stephen - the total has already surpassed £3000 with donations from family, friends and colleagues.
Irina said the couple visited Maggie’s a couple of times and were hugely grateful for their advice and support - and that of the NHS staff at the Cardenden practice.She added: “It was a Maggie’s nurse who said that it was now time to prepare for the very worst when we visited the centre in October 2022. My brain was split in two, you see – the carer who could see the signs and the wife who didn’t want to see the signs. I was grateful for her candour and wise counsel.
“The NHS literally threw its protective arms around us.. We will never forget Aunt Naomi from our Cardenden practice or Nurse Corrinna for the love and the strength.”
Adam Kent, Maggie’s Fife fundraising manager, said: “We are truly touched that Irina has chosen to hike a half marathon around Loch Leven on Christmas Day in memory of Stephen, and so grateful that she will be raising funds for Maggie’s.
"Cancer is possibly the most difficult experience of a person’s life. These funds will help us to support many more people with cancer and their families to live their lives as fully as possible. I would like to say good luck and a huge thank you to Irina – and Bear the dog - for their support on what will be a challenging day. Our team will be thinking of them”