Hastings mum, who worked tirelessly helping cancer sufferers, loses 11-year battle with disease

Ann Sandeman. Photo by Rebecca Brooker SUS-180811-091352001
Ann Sandeman. Photo by Rebecca Brooker SUS-180811-091352001

A mother-of-three, who fought terminal cancer for more than a decade and worked tirelessly to help others suffering from the disease, has passed away.

Ann Sandeman died peacefully at St Michael’s Hospice on November 1, aged 48 after losing her courageous battle with cancer.

She worked with Cancer Research UK for many years, raising awareness of the disease and organised many fundraising events.

Her family and friends this week paid tribute to her.

A statement released by them said: “Ann, daughter to Monica and Anthony and sister to Simon and Sarah, has left behind three wonderful children Hannah, Emma and Ben.

“She also leaves behind several nieces and nephews who also have a massive void left in their life and say that ‘she wants to go for a stay in heaven’.

“The children and family have shown the same strength seen in Ann throughout her battle with the deadly disease, and as a family mourn a terrible loss of a lady who had family at the forefront of her life.

“Ann fought her long battle with minimal complaining, always finding the positive in every situation and would put her own battle to one side in order to support those friends and family she held so dear.

“Ann was a well-loved and respected woman in our town. She attended Helenswood and had many friends, who have paid tribute to her from school days describing her as ‘an amazing lady’ who was very much into her sports. This love of sport continued as she played rugby for Hastings and Bexhill Rugby Club captaining the ladies’ team.

“Her love of rugby has continued through her children with all of them playing rugby for Hastings and Bexhill where Ann was an avid supporter, rarely missing any of her children’s games and cheering loudly from the side-lines.

“Ann spent most of her working life with the AA and Barclays before being forced into medical retirement during her fight with cancer. Colleagues soon became some of her closest friends.

“Tributes have been coming in from friends and family near and wide and the family take much comfort from reading about this very special lady. Untold tributes comment on Ann’s strength, courage and sheer determination to be the truly inspirational mum, daughter, sister, auntie, and friend she became to so many.

“Ann was heavily involved in the Scout Association as a child and young adult and spent many weekends with friends from her venture unit camping and has maintained many of these friendships into her adult life.

“Her love for scouting is again carried on through her children, all of whom attend the 3rd Hastings Scout Group. Many tributes from friends in scouting and pictures of them in those days have been surfacing with comments of a ‘most inspirational and remarkable woman’.

“Ann even while fighting her own battle held many fundraising events, took part in Race for Life and supported the Cancer Research UK team to raise much-needed funds to help try and beat this dreaded disease, so much so that she was awarded the prestigious title of Ambassador of Hope at the annual Cancer Research UK awards.

“This presented Ann with the opportunity and platform to speak of her own battle and the impact this had on her and her family and friends as well as getting the message out in a public forum of the need for support for this charity.

“Ann took this role, as she did with everything in life, very seriously and supported events even when this impacted on her own health.”

“Ann loved to travel both with family and friends and her last few years saw her making as many memories as she physically could with her family and children.

“This was supported by many generous donations through a crowdfunding page set up to enable Ann to create these memories, of which Ann and her family are eternally grateful to those who were able to contribute in any way they could. “These holidays have given Ann and the children many memory-making opportunities for laughter, fun, love and adventure.

“Ann was a regular attendee at the Holy Redeemer Church, which has helped and supported her and the family throughout this process, most recently, to note, providing funding for Ann to attend a pilgrimage to Lourdes to bathe in the holy water, something very close to Ann’s heart.”

Lynn Daly, regional press manager for Cancer Research UK, said: “Ann was truly an inspiration, fearless and tireless in all that she did to support the work of Cancer Research UK and the determination to help fund research to give others a brighter future.

“Ann really did embody the spirit of defiance which left many of us in awe of how she lived her life - brave, fearless and truly a woman who left you feeling better for having known her.

“We meet a lot of inspirational people in our jobs, but Ann was something else. There are many broken hearts this week, both in Hastings, where she was something of a legend and here at Cancer Research UK.

“Ann’s wish that her children would grow up in a world free of cancer was not in any doubt. She was so committed to this cause, that even in her final weeks Ann asked us here at the charity if there was anything else she could do to help.

“We feel privileged and so grateful to have known Ann and we offer our condolences to her children, Ben, Emma and Hannah and her family at this very sad time.

“Ann was due to make a speech recently to an audience at the charity, but sadly was too ill to make it, but left us with these words which we would like to share: ‘I truly believe there will come a day when all cancers will be cured, but for now I’m relishing all the wonderful bite sized moments of my life. So for the work you do, and for everything you’ve done for me and for the generations to come who will live in a world without cancer I really do thank you from the bottom of my heart’.”

A celebration of Ann’s life takes place on November 23 at Holy Redeemer Church at 11.45am.

All who knew Ann are welcome to attend. Flowers only from family. Donations will be gratefully received for St Michael’s Hospice.

Read more about Ann’s fundraising and campaigning here by clicking the links below:

Plea to convert cancer patient’s garden into relaxing haven.

Hastings and Bexhill rugby players Stand Up To Cancer.

Hastings mum battling cancer is honoured in new book by close friend.

Ann’s top award for tireless fundraising.

Brave Ann’s role in cancer charity’s TV advertisement.