A FRIEND of the schoolgirl whose brave cancer battle inspired the opening of Claire House has organised a fun run in aid of the hospice.

Taking place on Sunday June 30 Claire's 40 for 40 charity run and fun day is organised by Joelle Fenna in memory of Claire Cain, who lost her battle with cancer in 1989, 19 days before her 10th birthday.

Her courage inspired parents Chris and Bobby to begin a fundraising appeal that culminated in the opening of the Clatterbridge-based hospice in April 1999.

The newly-launched Claire's 40 for 40 appeal aims to raise £40,000 that will be used to help the organisation in its vital work and celebrate what would have been Claire's 40th birthday.

Joelle, who is also 40 this year, wants people sign up for the run.

Paying tribute to her friend, Joelled said: "I met Claire on her first day when she moved to New Brighton Primary School. We sat next to each other and became great friends.

"I was just three weeks older than Claire.

"She got ill with a tumour behind her nose and eye when I was eight I remember the first time I went to visit her in hospital.

"It was hard seeing her unwell, but she was so strong.

"Claire was very clever and very funny. We were quite competitive but in a nice way.

"We always wanted to get the highest marks or see who did their spelling test the best."

Despite moving to Scotland, Joelle kept in touch with Claire's mum and dad, Chris and Bobby Cain, who fundraised tirelessly to raise the money to build Claire House.

Joelle continued: "I visited the hospice quite soon after it opened with Chris, then I came again recently.

"It's amazing and has changed a lot over the years. I've also been to the new day-care centre in Liverpool. It seems such an amazing, calm place, that would make a brilliant hospice.

"For my 40th I wanted to do some fundraising for Claire House.

"I asked Chris if she was doing anything to mark Claire's birthday, and she said yes.

"I knew that lots of people from Claire's old school year would also want to do something.

"Our plan is to raise £40,000 for Claire's 40th – 40 for 40.

"There has been a ripple effect, with lots of people getting involved from schools, churches and community groups.

"The money raised will go on music and care at the hospice.

"Claire and I really bonded over music.

"We could both play the piano a bit, and I played the violin.

"When she was ill we spent a lot of time together doing music on her keyboard, that I still have.

"We wanted a big event that brought people together. Doing a run from the hospice to Claire's memorial tree in Vale Park that is so close to New Brighton Primary where so many of us spent our childhood seemed the perfect tribute.

"The 13-and-a-half-mile run will be a really big challenge for us but having a two-mile fun run and cake at the end of the route means lots of people can get involved.

"It's fantastic that the memory of Claire's bravery and spirit lives on and she is still inspiring people and bringing us together."

The event is sponsored by Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

For more on Claire's 40 for 40 run and fun day event visit: