Sea of Santas for Mexborough’s ‘Miss S’ and Team Verrico

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A South Yorkshire school’s Santa Dash, made in memory of a cherished teacher, will support the work of cancer charity.

Mexborough PE teacher Hana Szczepkowski, 31, had breast cancer two years ago, but received a second shock diagnosis of cancer of the brain just 12 weeks before her death last month.

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Hana’s mother Jean, said: “We had tremendous help from the Team Verrico charity. When we wanted a second opinion, and didn’t know where to turn, Paul Verrico lifted this huge weight from us by taking Hana to Harley Street to see Professor Stebbins. It made all the difference.”

She added: “Hana never gave up. She had an infectious personality. We have had hundreds of cards and messages.”

Mexborough Academy held a community Santa Dash last Saturday on its school fields, to benefit Team Verrico, which is based in the Isle of Axholme.

Scores of people put on their red to remember Hana and raise cash to help others.

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Tributes to the popular Mexborough sportswoman who represented England at rounders as a youngster, and was latterly a ski coach, poured in.

Close friend, Lucy Stanton, said: “Hana was a dear friend to me and also many others. She was so popular for her hilarious personality,and also her kind and thoughtful heart.

“Hana was a very positive person and this didn’t change with the cancer diagnosis. Her laugh was contagious and ‘Team Hana’ will miss her forever.

Team Verrico chair, Paul Verrico, said: “I don’t normally get involved with patients – but Hana was different.

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“She wanted to talk to me personally to explore her options; she was friendly, funny and grateful for what Team Verrico was able to offer by way of second opinion, even though we made contact very late in her illness. She seemed genuinely puzzled that a volunteer group would take interest in her.

“An unassuming, decent human being. It is a great sadness to Team V that we were unable to do much to help extend Hana’s life, although I am glad that we brought some light into her final weeks.”

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