Keep on Running: Gill and daughter, Faye, to run Manchester Marathon in memory of dad, and grandad, Bill Jones, who was with us at the hospice

Published on: 04/04/2024

Gill and Faye complete a Chester half marathon

Gill Irving is a frequent visitor to the fundraising office at Wirral Hospice St John’s.

She’s often here, dropping off money that her family and friends have raised for the hospice through events, like quizzes, and the hospice collection boxes sited at the pub she and husband Keith own, the famous Travellers Rest, The Travs as it is affectionately known, about a mile up from the hospice on Mount Road, Bebington. (Faye, Gill and Keith are pictured in the banner image above).

Faye hugs Gill with Keith looking on

Gill is also a keen runner. It wouldn’t be a surprise if you were travelling around the Wirral, or even further afield, and that lady you often see running at a steady, though impressive, pace, is Gill herself. You may not know she’s completed, often more than a few times, the Chester half marathon, the Liverpool half, the Mersey Tunnel 10k, the Rock and Roll marathon, two Manchester halves and the hospice’s virtual Race Around the World during lockdown.

Out on the road, through the woods, up hill and down dale, Gill is always clocking up the miles for her next long-distance challenge.

She caught the running bug from Keith, with runs around the block together some years ago and had smashed, at least, a couple of half marathons by 2012/13 when the circumstances that brought a clear focus to her running challenges began.

You see her dad, Bill Jones, who had lived with Paget’s disease for a long time, developed the bowel cancer which would see him spend time at the hospice in the final weeks of his life in 2014.

When asked what kind of a man Bill was, it is Keith, former army reservist and police officer, who speaks without hesitation,

Grandad Bill, Gill & Keith’s son Sean and Nan Agnes

“Bill was the finest man I ever knew. He was full of honour and integrity and lived for his family.

He was a builder by trade and became an engineer at Lubrizol, a chemicals company once sited in Wirral.

He liked a cigar and a glass of whisky and we had a very special celebration when he and mother-in-law, Agnes, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

They brought up Gill’s older brothers Alan and Colin, alongside Gill, with wisdom and love and when their youngest brother, Ian, was born with severe learning disabilities, they devoted their lives to giving him the most fulfilled life they possibly could.

I learned so much from him. Gill and I have tried to instil his values into our own children, Sean and Faye, whom he also doted on.

Gill with dad, Bill

In his final days the hospice was so kind to Bill and, all of us really. We’ll never forget that kindness or the little glasses of red wine the nurses would bring him. The whole family is proud to support the hospice to remember Bill.”

Gill and Keith have been married for 35 years this year. Seven years ago they took over the ownership of The Travs which Keith’s mum Annie previously ran for years and where Gill has been managing for over 30 years now.

It’s a great community pub, winning loads of local and national awards for its beer and is famous for traditional, home cooked, fayre and a wide selection of starters, mains and desserts. All the sport is on too if you enjoy that or find yourself a cosy corner for a chat with friends and family.

Keith doesn’t mind running but prefers cycling these days. He’s also joined in some fundraising challenges for the hospice, most notably in 2019 when he tested himself on the four-day London to Paris bike ride with a team of fellow supporters. Well done sir.

Faye, Sean and Gill

Faye, cabin crew for British Airways, and Sean, a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy (who with wife, Beth, have just brought a first granddaughter, Maeve, for Gill and Keith) are, whenever possible, willing participants in some of these challenges and have inherited the family gene for athleticism.

So now Gill and Faye are set to do the Manchester Marathon on Sunday 14th April as the latest in their family quest to raise funds for the hospice as a tribute to Bill.

This run is particularly significant as it marks the ten years since Bill passed away and Gill concluded with,

“My dad’s always with us and, knowing that what we do through these events, helping the hospice that showed him such dignity, respect and love, would make him so proud.

I’m so grateful to so many people, Keith and the children obviously, but many more who have made their so generous donations down the years.

Faye and I are focused on the Manchester Marathon for now (Faye’s first full marathon) and afterwards, although we may say ‘never again’ in the immediate aftermath, I know we’ll start planning the next one.

Dad’s memory and the hospice will always mean we’ll just ‘keep on running!’”

Everyone at Wirral Hospice St John’s wishes you all the very best, Gill, Faye and all the family. We are eternally grateful.


If you’d like to sponsor Gill and Faye’s Manchester Marathon effort for the hospice their Just Giving page for the run is at Many, many thanks.