A RIVER of purple flowed through Ferndown as the town celebrated the launch of the seventh Bournemouth and East Dorset Relay for Life.

Town centre retailers decorated their shops and signs with purple balloons to show their support for the annual fundraising drive, which will to take place on July 12 and 13 at Ferndown Leisure Centre.

Pam Bentley, Relay for Life organiser and cancer survivor, liaised with the 67 retailers, banks and estate agents to help promote the fundraising festival which raises cash for Cancer Research UK.

She said: “Relay for Life is such a great event to be involved with. It really brings the whole community together for such a great cause, and the support shown by local businesses is absolutely brilliant.

She added: “The first lap, with all of the survivors in their purple t-shirts, is a great way to start the relay and really brings everybody together in support to fight this horrid disease.

“As a cancer survivor myself, it means so much for me to see all of these people raising money and joining in, it really gives me strength, and I encourage any cancer survivors to come and be our guest of honour, and join us as we stand up to cancer."

Teams of between eight to 15 people of all ages and levels of fitness are invited to take part in the overnight relay, during which team members take it in turns to walk round a track while everyone else enjoys a wide range of fun activities on offer.

Chris Symonds, volunteer chair of Cancer Research UK’s Relay for Life Bournemouth and East Dorset, urged anyone who would like to support the event to get in touch.

He said: “We are especially keen to hear from businesses from Bournemouth, Poole and east Dorset as well. This is a great social or team strengthening event for you and your staff that, not only is tremendous fun, but also helps raise vital funds to help Cancer Research UK.”

He added: “Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer. Taking part in Relay for Life is a positive way to be part of your local community and help make a real difference.”

For more information or to enter Relay for Life go to www.cruk.org/relay or call 0871 641 2602.