WHEN Caroline Cooke won a competition to go on the trip of a lifetime, she chose the tour around Europe she and her late partner Alan Ainsworth planned before he died of skin cancer.
Caroline left her Boughton home this month for a 10-day rail tour of Europe which included a master class with chef Alain Ducasse in Paris, glass blowing in Venice, a guide to the boutiques of Milan with a personal shopper and wine tasting in Franciacorta region of Italy.
She says Alan, who was her partner for five years before he died in 2006, would find it funny that she won the trip in a competition by skin care company Neutrogena.
Speaking before her trip she said: “Before Alan died we planned to tour Europe this summer and take my son James Gibson with us, because he is 15 now and we realised he wouldn’t want to come on a family holiday again.
“Alan was diagnosed with skin cancer in July 2006 and died the following November. After that I wanted to go to Europe but I didn’t have the confidence without him.
“Then this year I was browsing on the internet and clicked on a Neutrogena competition to go exploring.
I forgot about it and was amazed when they called me to an interview in London, then was told I could go anywhere I wanted.
“I knew straight away that I wanted to go to Europe like me and Alan planned.
“When he passed away my confidence really dropped and the fact that people have chosen me to go on this trip was a real confidence boost.
“I think travelling alone will make me get up and do things, if I can do it, anyone can. I think he would be really proud of me.”
Caroline added that since Alan’s death she always wears at least factor 50 sun cream.
She said: “I have had a spray tan done to go on holiday and I won’t sunbathe anymore. Alan had fair skin and always wore sun protection when I knew him, but they said the damage was probably done years ago.
“You think that a tan makes you look healthy, but actually it’s your skin showing that it is damaged.
“I am always nagging my friends to cover up and wear sun protection, but I don’t think it’s until something like that happens to you that you realise how serious the risks are.”