Jill arranges flower event for FORCE

The biggest event on the Devon and Cornwall flower arranging calendar will this year be raising money for a charity especially close to the heart of the woman who heads a group of more than 50 local clubs.

Jill Wilson from Okehampton is chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Area of National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies. 

She has been diagnosed with three different forms of cancer in 16 years.

So when it came to choosing an organisation to benefit from the Chairman’s Charity Event for 2018, the choice was straightforward.

Her big day at Tavistock Town Hall on October 4 will be in aid of FORCE Cancer Charity, which offers face-to-face support to anyone affected by the disease.

Two nationally renowned and sought after experts – speaker Brenda Ayres and demonstrator Nick Grounds – will be headlining the all-day event. Tickets cost £25 to include lunch and are available from Judith Woollven via woollven@talktalk.net

Jill hopes that up to 200 people will attend to provide a significant boost to the charity’s coffers.

“I’ve used FORCE quite a bit,” said the retired care nursing auxiliary. “Their Support Centre in Exeter is a place where you can sit quietly without being disturbed or if you need to talk, there’s always someone around for a chat if you have something to sort out. It’s a very calming place.”

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 after a routine mammogram and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in Plymouth.

Six years ago what started as a “funny throat” turned out to be cancer in her tonsils resulting in more chemo and radiotherapy, this time in Exeter where she was able to access the services FORCE provides free of charge.

“I had complementary therapies and a few sessions of acupuncture. It was really good to be able to talk to other people and get tips from patients who have been through the same thing,” said Jill. “It really does help to talk.”

In 2016 she discovered she had bone cancer and is now on regular medication.

A mum of two with four grandchildren, Jill’s love of flower arranging goes back decades.

She is a member of Sampford Courtenay Flower Club and enjoys the friendship as much as the flora.

“I love the company and I can lose myself fiddling around with flowers. I love to grow them, pick them and use them in arrangements and I really like bright colours,” said Jill, who often works for competitions with great friend Celia Boughton from North Tawton, herself a breast cancer survivor.

“She has the vision, I do the plonking and she takes care of the detail,” laughed Jill, who travels all over the country for workshops and shows and also provides arrangements for weddings and functions.

Her tenure as chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Area of NAFAS, made up of 48 clubs, two designer clubs and a creative leisure group, ends in November.