Daughter's tragic death from rare illness sparks dad's fundraiser

The four walkers

Paul Slater, from Harpley, is walking with his youngest daughter, Natalie Wheble, his middle daughter’s husband, Jean-Michel Nehme, and Jenny’s mother-in-law, Ann Fletcher, - Credit: Natalie Wheble

A family who were left devastated after the passing of a much-loved 41-year-old are walking 100-miles to raise money to help research the rare illness she suffered from.

Jenny Fletcher died of a blood disease called Amyloidosis in March 2020 at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. The illness causes a build-up of abnormal proteins on the organs, resulting in organ failure.

Paul Slater, Jenny’s father, has set up a campaign in her memory called Jenny’s Smile, and his first fundraising effort is a 100-mile walk. He started on April 15 at Knettishall Heath at the start of the Peddars Way and will finish at Happisburgh Lighthouse on the Norfolk coastal path on April 21.

A picture of Jenny Fletcher who died of a blood disease called Amyloidosis in March 2020.

Jenny Fletcher was 41 when she died of a blood disease called Amyloidosis in March 2020 at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. - Credit: Natalie Wheble

Mr Slater hopes to prevent other families from going through the same tragedy.

“We have been devastated by Jenny’s death and although we knew she was poorly, she’d been given the all-clear from the nasty diseases we were worried about, it all felt so sudden and unexpected," he said.


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“If we can raise money to help research into the earlier diagnosis then maybe another family can be saved from what we’ve been through."

Paul Slater, Natalie Wheble and Ann Fletcher have been walking every day since April 15.

Paul Slater, Natalie Wheble and Ann Fletcher have been walking every day since April 15. - Credit: Natalie Wheble

Mr Slater, from Harpley, is walking with his youngest daughter, Natalie Wheble, his middle daughter’s husband, Jean-Michel Nehme, and Jenny’s mother-in-law, Ann Fletcher.

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Mrs Fletcher worked at the Ladybirds pre-school in Fakenham. She had been suffering from undiagnosed symptoms for two years before her death, but it was not until she was admitted to hospital a few weeks before that her illness was identified.

"Jenny had been to see various doctors and specialists to try and understand why she was struggling to keep her weight on but the problem with this illness is that it is really hard to diagnose,” Mr Slater said.

A map of their walk

They started on April 15 at Knettishall Heath at the start of the Peddars Way and will finish at Happisburgh Lighthouse on the Norfolk coastal path on April 21. - Credit: Natalie Wheble

“The symptoms mimic other illnesses and can be very non-specific, so early diagnosis is often missed and the consequences, as we have sadly experienced, can be fatal.”

Jenny’s Smile is raising money for Amyloidosis Research UK which is based at the Royal Free Hospital in London. There is currently no cure for amyloidosis and if undiagnosed it can be fatal within 12 months. 

There are less than 1,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year, and the rate of incidence in people under 50 is around two cases per million people.

You can donate to the cause for Jenny’s Smile on the Just Giving page.

Paul Slater, Jean-Michel Nehme, and Ann Fletcher are part of the team walking the 100-miles to raise money.

Paul Slater, Jean-Michel Nehme, and Ann Fletcher are part of the team walking the 100-miles to raise money. - Credit: Natalie Wheble

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