Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Friends to ride for hospice

Trio’s charity South Island traverse a thank you for amazing support of loved one.
Tony Ellis, Virginia Poole and Jeff Poole plan to raise $250,000 for hospices such as the one that cared for Marlene Ellis.
Tony Ellis, Virginia Poole and Jeff Poole plan to raise $250,000 for hospices such as the one that cared for Marlene Ellis.

The hospice which cared for their loved one in her gutsy battle against cancer has inspired three friends to cycle the length of the South Island in the name of charity.

Jeff and Virginia Poole, along with their best friend Tony Ellis, will start their Ride For Hospice event tomorrow in remembrance of Mr Ellis' wife of 40 years, Marlene Ellis.

Mrs Ellis was diagnosed with terminal cancer on New Year's Eve in 2014. She was told she did not have long to live, but fought hard over the next 11 months and died peacefully last November.

In the last few days of her life, she was cared for at Mercy Hospice Auckland, and husband Tony stayed with her.

Mr Poole, who is co-ordinating the event, said seeing how much the hospice staff had helped their friend was hugely inspiring.

"We got to witness firsthand what an amazing organisation they are - not only in a professional manner, but they also showed care, love and support.

When Marlene passed away, they continued their support for Tony and we wanted to give something back to hospice."

Marlene Ellis.
Marlene Ellis.

Mr Poole, his wife and Mr Ellis came up with a big idea to help all 29 of the country's hospice organisations.

Their Riding For Hospice event will see them start cycling tomorrow morning from Picton. They will ride around 90km a day with the aim of finishing in Bluff on March 1.

They aim to raise $250,000 for Hospice New Zealand and, because they are paying their own way, 100 per cent of the funds will go towards the cause.

Mr Poole, managing director of wine retailer Fine Wine Delivery, said they also had a number of other fundraising initiatives happening; including an exclusive dinner event with Prime Minister John Key.

At $1000 per ticket, the sold-out event - scheduled for some time in the next two months - has already reeled in $50,000 for the charity.

A Givealittle page has also been set up and by last night had raised almost $13,000.

Mr Poole said people had been greatly supportive.

"I've been talking to a lot of people and everyone knows someone who has been through a hospice.

"It touches everyone and the stories are always great - that it's a wonderful organisation."

To donate:

- NZ Herald

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