Viv Pow has died, peacefully at home, after an inspirational 12-year fight against cancer. In her final interview, she told PETER BARRON, with typical positivity, about her ‘one last goal’

THE inspirational Viv Pow – wife, mum, grandma, retired police officer, fundraiser, and dedicated cancer research campaigner – knew that time was running out.

She was resting at home when we chatted for the last time two weeks ago today. As she looked out at her garden, in the pretty village of Middleton Tyas, near Darlington, it was clear her health was deteriorating quickly.

And yet she still spoke with typical determination and passion about wanting to inspire others, while raising funds for Cancer Research UK and St Teresa's Hospice, in Darlington.

She had “one big goal left” – to make it to Darlington’s beautiful South Park this coming Monday, June 10, for the third charity fun run and walk to be organised in her honour.

“The reality is that this will be the last one for me because it’s obvious I’m not going to be around in a year or even six months’ time,” she told me.

“I’m getting weaker every day, but I desperately want to be there on June 10, just to see everyone who’s supported me over the years – and to say thank you for being there."

Sadly, Viv, who served for 30 years with Durham Constabulary, didn't quite make it. She finally lost her fight against cancer, peacefully and at home, on Sunday morning.

But – just as she would have wanted – Monday's 5k event, organised by her best friend, Tracy Kirk, will go ahead, adding to the £45,000 the formidable pair have already raised together.

It's been an honour to tell Viv’s story since she was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2012. The first instalment told how, within months of finishing chemotherapy, she’d astonishingly completed the inaugural Yorkshire Marathon.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Viv Pow in training shortly after her first cancer diagnosis

Three years later, while running with a stoma, it was on to the Rome Marathon, accompanied by another great friend, Amanda Garvey-Kovac.

“It was a little point I wanted to prove – that having a stoma doesn’t stop you living your life," Viv explained as she looked back on her exploits, which included ten marathons.

In 2018, it was Tracy’s turn to be enticed out of her comfort zone by Viv’s irresistible example. A fellow Darlington police officer at the time, Tracy was inspired to take part in the Loch Ness Marathon, and so began a life-changing passion for long-distance running and fundraising.

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“Viv believed in me before I believed in myself – she’s that type of person,” said Tracy,  who was able to say goodbye to her 'bestie' the day before she died. “She had an incredible ability to drip-feed positivity to others.”

So far, Tracy's recently-discovered commitment to running has included eight marathons, as well as becoming a regular at the Darlington Parkrun.

Once Viv was no longer able to take part in the Parkrun herself, she would regularly cheer on the participants from the sidelines, always with an infectious smile.

When Tracy ran her fourth London Marathon in April this year, Viv wasn’t well enough to travel to the capital to support her. Instead, she sent a video call during the 19th mile, urging her friend to keep going.

“What I learned from Viv is to never write yourself off,” added Tracy, who is scheduled to run marathons in Rome and Chicago in 2025.

“If you want to do something, do it now – before it’s too late. That’s what I’ve tried to do, and I had the best cheerleader in the world!”

In honour of their fundraising efforts, Viv and Tracy were chosen as ambassadors for the Darlington Race For Life

Then, in June 2021, Viv was told her bowel cancer had reached stage four, and she was given two years to live.

Her defiant response was to launch 'Viv’s Positivity POWer Run and Walk' in South Park, and she was "blown away" by the support she received for the inaugural event in 2022.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Viv Pow addresses the crowd

With valued support from Darlington Harriers and the Up & Running Athletics Shop, it was repeated in 2023, and the numbers grew.

Planning was well underway for the event to be staged for the third time this Monday, along with cake stalls and tombolas to maximise the amount raised for the charities, and pink medals being presented to every participant.

However, last February, Viv was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent her latest operation. Although the brain surgery was successful, she was given the devastating news shortly afterwards that the cancer had spread to her liver, and nothing more could be done.

Yet, still, she was determined to make it to her latest charity fundraiser.

“The reality is that there is no longer any viable treatment – just pain relief,” she acknowledged, just a fortnight ago.

“But knowing there will be lots of people in the park, enjoying the fresh air and raising money for Cancer Research UK and St Teresa’s, is what’s keeping me going.

“It’s about bringing people together, in lovely surroundings, and placing the emphasis on being positive and living life to the full.

“Whenever I've been at the Parkrun, even though it’s been on walking sticks, or in a wheelchair, for a while now, it’s been so lovely to have people coming up to give me hugs and say hello.

“It’s one of the best feelings in the world to know I might have inspired people to get out of bed feeling more positive, and I just desperately hope I can be there on June 10 – it’s the one big goal I have left.".

Despite his grief, Viv’s husband, Jeff, who she described as her "rock", intends to be at the event on Monday.

"It's heartbreaking that she won't be there, but  I know she would want as many people as possible to come out and take part in the event, preferably in turquoise, her favourite colour," he said.

"All Viv ever wanted was for people to enjoy their lives to the full, while also raising money for charity, and that's what Monday is all about.

"I'm so very, very proud of her for the way she's touched so many lives."

Viv also leaves two sons, Sam and Matthew, as well as grandchildren, Camilla, four, Rupert, three, and Matilda, two.

This amazing woman deserves to see South Park swarming with supporters of all ages on Monday. There will be sadness, of course, but plenty of smiles too, so please come along.

And it won’t be the end of Viv’s Positivity POWer Run and Walk, because Tracy is already planning to stage the event next year, and who knows how many more years after that.

“I’d love to keep it going – because Viv’s here forever,” she said, pointing to her heart.

  •  To save time on the day, those wishing to take part in Monday’s event are advised to register online at However, people can sign up on the day. Standard entry is £10, and £5 for children under 12.

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