The family of a woman who died of cancer this year is making a 1,000-mile pilgrimage in her memory – and have already smashed their fundraising target.

The family of much-loved mam and grandmother Lillian Dixon, from Ingleby Barwick are cycling from Teesside to Lourdes, in France in her memory.

The 1,050-mile challenge is in aid of Macmillan and they have already raised in excess of £13,000.

Read more: North East firm fined £3.6 MILLION after two workers severely burned

Lillian’s four children and wider family group decided to take on the challenge, called Lillian’s Two Wheeled Pilgrimage in her honour.

They set off on Sunday and will arrive next week. 

The Northern Echo: Lillian and Brian Dixon Lillian and Brian Dixon

Steve Walker, 45, who is Lillian’s youngest son and lives in Stockton said: “We have been bowled over with the support we’ve received to reach our initial target of £10,000 before we have even set off. It’s testament to the impact my mam had on her community.

“As a family we all pulled together to take on this challenge as a tribute to the incredible lady my mam was. She was very active on social media and even used her platforms to help fundraise in the last few weeks of her life once she was made aware of what we were doing and why.”

Lillian died aged 74 in January after being re-diagnosed with breast cancer as well as enduring treatment for myeloma – a type of blood cancer.

Originally from Thornaby, she was a committed Roman Catholic, and in her retirement supported Catholic schools in the area becoming a Foundation Governor at Christ the King Catholic School in Thornaby.

Steve, an operations manager for Virgin Media, said: “We thought Lourdes would be a special place for our family to visit in tribute to my mam, a very special place for a very special person.”

The team includes eight riders including three of Lillian’s children Paul Walker, 50, a regional operations manager for Virgin Media, Gillian Hoban, 50, Mandy Kennedy, 52, and grandchildren Luke Walker, Brooke Hoban, and son-in-law Paul Kennedy and nephew’s David Bradshaw and Andrew Bradshaw.

The Northern Echo: The team are raising money for Macmillan The team are raising money for Macmillan

They will be accompanied on the journey by a support vehicle manned by Steve who is carrying long term injury and unable to ride, and grandchildren Quinn Hoban, Jacob Walker and daughter-in-law Nicola Walker.

Lillian devoted many hours of her retirement to visiting the children at Christ The King Catholic School helping them read and often helping them prepare for their first Holy Communion. She visited famed Catholic pilgrimage spot Lourdes five years ago and was set to return before the pandemic and cancer intervened.

To get more stories from Teesside direct to your email basket go here

“As a family we have been profoundly affected by cancer over the years,” said Steve, “making Macmillan our charity of choice was a natural decision for mam and the whole family.

“Toward the end of my mam’s life we had Macmillan nurses and Macmillan community nurses providing exceptional care and giving support to my mam but also all of us who were affected emotionally as well as physically. Even through Christmas when everywhere else is winding down our Macmillan nurses were stepping up to offer much needed support at our family’s most difficult time.”

The Northern Echo: The team outside Christ the King church in ThornabyThe team outside Christ the King church in Thornaby

 To contribute to the Lillian Two Wheeled Pilgrimage Macmillan total please visit: Steve Walker is fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support (

  • Anyone in need of cancer support can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, which is open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm, or visit Macmillan Online Community.

Read next:


If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here