FRIENDS of a champion for breast cancer who died in 2009 could soon see her dream of raising £1 million for charity become reality.

Shirley Garman founded the Wiltshire Breakthrough Breast Cancer Group – renamed Breast Cancer Now – in 1995 and set herself a target of raising £1m for breast cancer research.

After a 15-year-long battle with breast cancer, which recurred three times, she died in September 2009 aged 61.

But her inspiration in fighting the disease, while supporting others, couldn’t be stopped and friends and co-workers decided to continue her work, which over the years raised a total of £724,000.

Now, with less than £17,500 to go, those carrying on fundraising in her memory at the charity are desperate to honour Shirley’s wish and achieve her £1m by the end of October 2019, the 10th anniversary of her death.

Friend Eunice Salmon told the Adver: “She never gave up supporting other people even though it was emotionally traumatic for her. Shirley carried on doing it because she felt that it was the right thing to do.”

“In the early days she welcomed me into the group and inspired me when I had no fundraising experience. She reassured me that, even if I didn’t raise much money, I was raising awareness. From that moment on, she had me hooked.

“She was so welcoming and so inspiring, she just got people to do it all. It’s an incredible story of people inspiring other people.”

Shirley was known as a tireless campaigner and met Prince Charles and travelled to America to meet Hilary Clinton.

She was co-founded the Mad Hare March, inspired by Irene Hare who died from breast cancer aged 46, which has organised runs round Lydiard Park since 2008.

The event alone has raised more than £100,000 for Breast Cancer Now.

The vision of the charity and Shirley is to have a future where everyone who develops breast cancer will live by 2050.

A year before her death Shirley had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and friends couldn’t believe her determination could be beaten by the disease.

Eunice said: “It was obviously a big shock when she died. She always thought she would pull through. It was horrible to see how she could go down so quickly, but she had already inspired us all. It was easy to get people to carry on her work because we had so much respect for her.”

Eunice remembered when Shirley was getting treatment for her cancer and still came to a networking breakfast to help out before going to have an operation later that day.

“She said ‘Eunice I’m sorry I’ve got to go to hospital for an operation, but it’s alright I can come and help’.

“That’s the sort of lady she was,” she added, “She was very matter of fact about everything, it was just phenomenal.”

Friend of more than 20 years and former mayor Stan Pajak remembered Shirley organising coaches to the Moonwalk Breast Cancer fundraiser in London, complete with Dougal-themed bras to represent Swindon’s Magic Roundabout.

“We were the biggest contingent from any area at the Moonwalk in 2009,” he said.

“The Mad Hare March has been a big success. She did start the ball rolling in many ways. She was a wonderful woman and community champion, but particularly with breast cancer.

“We do have heroes in Swindon and she is definitely one of them.”

The Mad Hare March at Lydiard Park will be on Sunday, March 24, the charity will enter the Dragon Boat Race in June.

A black tie ball will be held at Blunsdon House Hotel on November 15.