Horsham's Rene Vivian steps back from Relay for Life

Horsham grandmother Rene Vivian has been involved in the Horsham and Distrcts Relay For Life since the event started more than 10 years ago. Picture: KATE HEALY

Horsham grandmother Rene Vivian has been involved in the Horsham and Distrcts Relay For Life since the event started more than 10 years ago. Picture: KATE HEALY

RENE Vivian is a name synonymous with Relay for Life.

The Horsham grandmother has been involved in the Horsham and district event since it started more than a decade ago.

Five years ago she launched the first Paint the Town Purple - an event that is now being replicated in cities throughout the state.

This year she will step back from both events and will remain a committee member.

Mrs Vivian said she first got involved in Relay for Life through her late friend Marie Walker.

"She was a very strong influence,'' she said.

"I'd been involved with her through Cancer Council Horsham unit.''

When the first Horsham Relay for Life committee formed, the women joined together.

Mrs Vivian was catering co-ordinator for the first couple of years.

She then stepped back because of health reasons before coming back as a publicity officer.

Mrs Vivian won a Cancer Council Victoria Spirit of Relay Award last year for creating Paint the Town Purple.

The initiative sees businesses raise awareness of cancer by decorating their shop fronts in purple.

People are also encouraged to dress in purple.

Mrs Vivian, who calls Paint the Town Purple her baby, said the idea for the week-long event formed from others wanting to get more involved.

The original Paint the Town Purple day, in October 2010, was also to highlight the shift of the relay from October back to March.

"Purple was the colour of hope, so naturally purple was the colour I wanted to go with,'' Mrs Vivian said.

She did not envisage the one-day event would become a week-long celebration.

More than 30 businesses dressed their windows for the first Paint the Town Purple event.

"I wasn't surprised - Horsham people have always been strong supporters of cancer research,'' Mrs Vivian said.

She said she loved the way both the relay and Paint the Town Purple spread the word about cancer research.

But her highlight is the effort of the youth involved.

"It's wonderful the way schools got behind it and especially how children have got behind it,'' she said.

Mrs Vivian said young people's support of cancer research extended to the Relay for Life committee.

"We've got a young committee, which is something a lot of committees don't have,'' she said.

"The committee now is a diverse one in both experiences and youthfulness.

"Some of our committee know the pain of losing a loved one first-hand, and some have had cancers themselves, with a special mention of a younger member, having cancer diagnosed as a youngster.

"All of these things give them drive to further awareness.''

Mrs Vivian experienced such loss last month, when Mrs Walker died.

She said she would remain inspired by her friend.

"I just admired her 110 per cent in everything.''

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