A pink army’s battle cry roared against cancer at a busy shopping centre – led by a cancer survivor from Chester.

The determined group of women were joined by a pink gorilla for the Cancer Slam at Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham to rally the troops for the Race for Life 5k event at Alyn Waters Country Park on Sunday June 8.

Rosemary Conley diet and fitness instructor Jane Mann, who won her own battle with cervical cancer 20 years ago, led the charge.

The grandmother from Chester led a fun and energetic fitness routine to upbeat music.

She was also on hand to chat to shoppers and hand out information leaflets, as was her husband David, a retired Army major who recently beat prostate cancer.

Jane said: “We’re fired up and ready to go. This is where it starts.

“The Cancer Slam has been absolutely fantastic. It’s an easy routine. It’s something that everyone can join in with, and it’s very effective.

“It’s been a really fun day, and we’re gearing up for the Race for Life.”

Those words were echoed by Liz Booth, the Wrexham events manager for Cancer research UK.

She said: “We’re trying to rally the troops, and get the message out there that we want to take cancer down.

“We want to do everything that we can to get rid of this disease which affects one in three people.

“A lot of people have said that they’re looking to sign up. There’s lots of interest, and we hope people go away and tell their friends and family as well.

“Race for Life is non-competitive. It’s not about being fit or fast. Most women are able to walk 5k in an hour while chatting and having fun. Or they can choose to jog, run or even dance around the course if they prefer.”

David Mann videos his wife Jane as she starts another Zumba session
David Mann videos his wife Jane as she starts another Zumba session

Jane's proud husband, David, 65, who started his military career, aged 17, at Sandhurst where Princes William and Harry completed their military training, paid tribute to his wife.

He said: “Jane is an inspiration to me on many fronts but most especially this one. Before we were married she had invited me to come and Help at Race for Life, and I just remember seeing her inspiring ladies as they crossed the line.

“I thought I had been in an environment where motivation and inspiration was important in the forces. But I was charmed, bowled over and inspired from what I saw in Jane’s ability to connect with women especially and encourage them.

“She’s been a leading light for me – a star actually. Not only to help me through a challenging illness, but also in day-to-day life.”

David, who served in the Light Infantry regiment in countries including Germany, Pakistan, Gibraltar, Malaya, and Northern Ireland, was diagnosed with cancer in March and after undergoing six weeks of radiotherapy he has been given the all clear.

He added: “Jane knows what it’s like to have been made aware that you are suffering from a life-threatening disease.

“We’re all going to die at some stage but the moment when the prospect of that comes closer is quite a shocking event. You become aware of your own mortality.

Jane recalled how her own painful fight with cancer which led to a full hysterectomy, made her determined to make a difference: “I was devastated. For me it was a double hammer because obviously it’s a life-threatening disease and I had a child to look after and I was single.

“But at the same time I was challenged with the prospect of not having any more children, and that was devastating as well.

“That was as much of a challenge for me as a woman at that age, as I’m sure it is for ladies who have to have mastectomies and things like that.

“It is part of your identity. It is your womanhood. It’s who you are.

“I was lying in my hospital bed after the operation and a friend of mine came in and said ‘Why don’t you run the London marathon?’

“I was just sitting there all wired up and recovering from a major operation.

“But then I started thinking that it was quite a good idea, that I needed something to focus on, something to take my mind off of what’s happened.

“So a bit like Forrest Gump I got up out of bed and started running. “I was angry, so I needed something to get it out my system.”

Six months later in April 1992 brave Jane was running her first London Marathon.

Jane added: “I recovered and trained for it from a standing start, and I did it and it was the best thing I ever did.”

Since then Jane has become an ardent supporter of the Race for Life.

She said: “It creates positive energy all channelled in one direction with all these people giving up their time and their energy to do something to help others.

“It’s like nothing else, turning something negative into a positive, and that’s the sort of thing we need to fight the cancer.

“Look it in the eye and say ‘no not me, not now’. It’s making a difference.”