The family of a dedicated fundraiser and her 11-year-old daughter, who both died of cancer just six months apart, will take part in a charity run in their memory.

Charlotte Lewis and Elizabeth Rooney were both huge supporters of Race for Life and Pretty Muddy.

Next week, husband and stepdad Matthew Lewis and Elizabeth’s brothers Michael Rooney, 10, and Jack Lewis, four, will be part of a team of friends and loved ones taking part in the Poole event in their honour.

Matthew said his wife always wanted to make a difference and she was proud of her charity work.

He said he wanted to continue this and it felt natural to do so at Race for Life – an event they both “really enjoyed”.

Bournemouth Echo: Elizabeth Rooney, brother Jack Lewis, mum Charlotte Lewis and brother Michael RooneyElizabeth Rooney, brother Jack Lewis, mum Charlotte Lewis and brother Michael Rooney (Image: Cancer Research UK)

“To have lost them both is something you can’t get your head around,” Matthew said.

“You know the statistics show that one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime, but in our family, one in two have died.

“It feels like you’re blindfolded and put up against a heavyweight boxer when you get knocked down and have to keep getting back up again. That’s all you can do, you’ve got to just keep going.

“The boys are determined to do Race for Life and that’s our connection with Charlie and Elizabeth. You’ve got to try to do something because it’s not fair, it doesn’t make sense and it shouldn’t happen. But it does happen and we want to do our best to prevent it happening to someone else.

“We like to think that one day, someone will donate a pound and that’s the pound that will fund the research that finds a cure.”

Charlotte and Elizabeth, who had won special recognition for their work as media volunteers and fundraisers for Cancer Research UK, both supported the events at Poole’s Baiter Park for several years, raising thousands of pounds towards crucial research.

Bournemouth Echo: Elizabeth Rooney with her Cancer Research UK Children and Young People Star Award after facing cancer for seven yearsElizabeth Rooney with her Cancer Research UK Children and Young People Star Award after facing cancer for seven years (Image: Charlotte Lewis)

In the event’s 30th year, ‘Team Charlie and Elizabeth’ will complete the 5k together, with Matthew firing the starting klaxon, just two weeks after laying Elizabeth to rest. 

The bright schoolgirl, who had a particular love for bees and arts and crafts, was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of three after a growth near her eye turned out to be a rare type of neuroendocrine carcinoma. This type of cancer affects around just five children and young people under the age of 29 nationally every year.

After two surgeries failed to prevent it from returning, in 2020, doctors removed Elizabeth’s eye and some of the surrounding tissue. She also received six weeks of proton beam therapy to directly target the cancer cells, in the hope of eradicating it once and for all.

Matthew said: “When Elizabeth found out she had to have her eye removed, she had a little cry, but then went straight downstairs and got her brothers to help her design eye patches to wear. She was amazing.”

Bournemouth Echo: Elizabeth Rooney celebrated her birthday whilst undergoing proton beam therapy in 2020Elizabeth Rooney celebrated her birthday whilst undergoing proton beam therapy in 2020 (Image: Charlotte Lewis)

While supporting Elizabeth through her four cancer diagnoses, in a cruel twist, Charlotte was then diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks after giving birth to her third child, Jack.

She underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy and was told she was cancer-free. However, as the family headed towards 2022, Charlotte discovered her cancer had returned and had spread to her bones.

Matthew, who married Charlotte in lockdown and finally got to celebrate their marriage at a party with friends and family last August, said: “We knew very early on that we were right for each other and we had the perfect life. We never argued and we talked about doing so many things, but we never had the time to do it.

“When Charlie went into hospital, we could see what was coming, but she fought until the very end. She never wanted to accept that she was going to die so young at just 38.

“Her cancer was aggressive and kept mutating and so it was difficult to find a treatment that could make a difference. Eventually, she was given palliative care at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital and she mustered up all her energy to see her children one last time to say goodbye. Charlie passed away the next day.

“She was heartbroken to have to leave her children because being a mum was what she was put on this earth to do. She was so selfless and compassionate and there was no limit to what she would do for other people, especially for Elizabeth, Michael and Jack.

“All the great work she did as a mother set them up to be able to deal with, process and accept everything that’s happened in the past few months, even Jack at the age of four.”

“People say the pandemic was a really tough time, but for us, we spent such quality time together and enjoyed simple things like making cakes and cream teas. Lockdown was some of the best times that we had.”

As the family, originally from Poole, tried to come to terms with Charlotte’s loss, Elizabeth was undergoing tests for pains in her hips. They were initially considered to be growing pains or arthritis, but the day before Charlotte’s funeral, the family was given the devastating news that Elizabeth’s cancer had also returned.

Matthew said: “The doctor called me to let me know because she didn’t want to call me on the day of the funeral. I held onto the news and told Elizabeth a couple of days later. She was fairly well prepared for it and she had a few tears, but she dealt with it like she did with everything else and said, ‘Right, when does the treatment start?’”

However, this time, Elizabeth’s cancer was widespread and incurable and due to the rare type of disease she faced, the treatment options were limited. She began chemotherapy and initially responded well, but it soon became apparent that another treatment was needed. Just three weeks after heading to Naomi House Hospice near Winchester, Elizabeth passed away, surrounded by her family.

Matthew said: “Even when Elizabeth knew that she wasn’t going to get better and that she only had a few days left, her first thought was that she wanted to make sure her siblings were alright and that she had to get a birthday present sorted for her dad.

“She was just like her mum, putting others before her, even at the worst moment of her life. The fight was never too much and her ability to accept and process everything that happened to her was inspiring. Elizabeth never allowed her cancer to get in the way of her life.”

Bournemouth Echo: Charlotte Lewis after taking part in Pretty Muddy at Race for Life Portsmouth in October 2021Charlotte Lewis after taking part in Pretty Muddy at Race for Life Portsmouth in October 2021 (Image: Cancer Research UK)

Anyone wanting to donate to the team taking part in Charlotte and Elizabeth’s memory visit

Elizabeth’s father, Dan Rooney, 39, will also be running the 10k. He said: “Elizabeth was a true inspiration to me and always will be. Even when she was so weak in her last few days, she was thinking of others. She had the ability to light up a room and make everyone smile and touched the hearts of everyone she met. We will all miss her dearly.”

The Race for Life events at Baiter Park, Poole, on Saturday, June 3, are open to people of all ages and abilities.  Women, men and children can choose from 3k, 5k and 10k events There is also a chance to take part in Pretty Muddy - a mud-splattered obstacle course - and there’s a Pretty Muddy Kids option. To enter, visit