Those of you who have become friends with Lucreta over the past few years, will picture a woman full of energy, enthusiasm, joy, compassion, generosity, kindness, creativity and a wicked sense of humour. She has been a central part of our Hilly Fields community, running alongside us, volunteering, sweeping up the leaves outside the cafe (yes, she would come up early to do this, before everyone else arrived) and being a champion for all our junior runners on a Sunday morning, turning up, rain or shine, sunshine or hail, to stand in 'position number one' to high-five and cheer each child around the course.
We remember a time, around Christmas (we think New Year's Day), where she had walked out of Lewisham Hospital - where she was receiving treatment for Leukemia and had spent a period in an isolation ward - telling the doctors she was 'going for a walk in the park'. Little did they know, she was on a mission, marching up Vicars Hill to come and volunteer! Little did we know that, under all the layers of warm clothing, she was in a gown and very definitely not supposed to be out in the cold December wind! It's this sense of determination - and her defiance - that got her back running with us, following chemotherapy, that got her powering back up the hill and chasing the times she ran before her illness.
A little while back, a few of us visited Lucreta at home and I was stopped in my tracks as I entered her living room. Displayed along one wall were an array of medals, trophies, cups, certificates and a beautiful photo of Lucreta, with her son Andrew, at Buckingham Palace, where she was collecting her MBE for volunteering and fundraising (she has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Sickle Cell Foundation and, more recently, the Anthony Nolan Trust).
When we have seen Lucreta in the past few months, she has said many times 'I miss my family', meaning us, her parkrun family. We will definitely miss Lucreta and her incredible energy, but let us remember her positivity at this difficult time, she said herself that she wouldn't want us to be sad. I know we all feel that Lucreta is 'ours', but you know she could be found all over the wider Lewisham community, volunteering at Brockley Max, over at The Albany on a Tuesday 'helping the old people', leading walking groups, making stylish clothing, or sharing her other passion, for performing at poetry slams. What an incredible woman!