AFTER Ilse Splaine was given a second chance at life, she and her husband Bob have spent the past 25 years fundraising for the hospital that helped her.

Mr and Mrs Splaine, both aged 79, from Atherton, were determined to reach the milestone after Ilse was treated at The Christie in the late 1980s.

The couple are now looking forward to officially retiring from fundraising having raised an incredible £70,000 for the specialist cancer centre.

In 1988 Mrs Splaine was given just two months to live following surgery for advanced cancer of the abdomen and ovaries.

Mrs Splaine asked for a second opinion and she was referred to The Christie, where she underwent a successful course of chemotherapy.

She said: “I have enjoyed everything I have done for The Christie over the past 25 years. It is my way of saying a big thank you.

“We worked hard at it and we’ve had some amazing times, but we always felt The Christie was a place of excellence, which is why we wanted to give something back.

"The main reason we carried on fundraising for so long is that I’m here to tell the tale 25 years on.

"We’re so grateful for what The Christie did for us all those years ago and we’ve had marvellous support from our son, our family, the people of Atherton and Atherton Rotary Club where Bob is now president.”

Over the years the couple, who have one son, two granddaughters and a three-month old great-grandson, have organised countless events including raffles, tombolas at summer fairs, mulled wine tasting evenings, car boot sales and collections.

But perhaps their most famous events were the strawberry fairs which they hosted at their home every year for 16 years.

Mr and Mrs Splaine have also done a trio of big sponsored walks — a 102-mile trek along the Cotswold Way, along the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall and 23 miles from Manchester to Wigan Pier along the canal.

Their fundraising has helped pay for equipment such as chemotherapy pumps and vital research into cancer.

They have also supported building developments such as The Christie’s new £12 million Palatine Treatment Centre, which houses teenage and young adult cancer services and haematology and transplant inpatient services.

Mr Splaine said: “Since 1988, we’ve had a fantastic 25 years that we wouldn’t have had without The Christie.

“We wanted to give something back to the hospital that gave Ilse all those precious years and many more to come.”

The couple also acted as ambassadors for The Christie charity, attending events and collecting donations.

Community fundraising officer at The Christie charity Howard Newhall said: “Bob and Ilse Splaine are such a wonderful couple and we are truly grateful for their fundraising efforts.”