Emotional tribute to ‘life and soul of the party’ Leeds woman, 32, after tragic cancer death

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A Leeds company is paying tribute to a much-loved former colleague after begin devastated to lose her to breast cancer last year.

Simone Taylor, 32, tragically died from triple-negative breast cancer in August 2021. Her death left ‘a huge hole’ where she worked at Invenia Group in Leeds – and now her colleagues of seven years want to honour her memory.

They have now launched The Simone Taylor Fund in her name to raise money for any charities working on the treatment and prevention of cancer.

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Invenia co-founder and CEO Paul Rodwell told LeedsLive: “We lost one of my friends to breast cancer last year. Simone was the life and soul of the party and always a key person here. She was an integral part of the culture here. It was a massive shock for all of us.

“She’d fought breast cancer for a year before lockdown and got past it. But when Simone came back to the office after lockdown she seemed to have a clean bill of health, before she found a lump and it was quite aggressive and quick from there.

“It was really sad to lose Simone and we never want to forget her. We just really want to make sure she’s remembered.”

Paul added: “What happened to Simone had a huge impact on everyone in the business, and we wanted something positive to come out of what has been a terrible time. We hope to raise significant funds over the next few years to support some remarkable charities and raise awareness of the incredible work they are doing.”

Simone was positive for the BRCA1 gene. Harmful variants of the BRCA1 gene can lead to their carriers being at increased risk of cancer – particularly breast and ovarian cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is a ‘particularly aggressive and devastating’ form of cancer, often affecting women under 50.

Women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage like Simone can be 10 times as likely to be BRCA1 positive as the general population – and this left Simone’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer at 72%. There are fewer targeted treatments for triple-negative breast cancer and many go on to see cancer spread to distant organs.

Now, her colleagues and friends are putting all their efforts into raising money for cancer charities, something Simone was passionate about. On May 20, many Invenia employees will be doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in her memory, and have already raised £790 for the Eve Appeal.

The charities were selected by Simone’s fiancé and her family.

Simone’s legacy has also been felt by those who never got the chance to meet her. Will Jowett joined Invenia’s sister company Crimson Global Talent, also based in Leeds, recently.

Will, 22, is cycling 100km for the Simone Taylor Fund on Sunday
Will, 22, is cycling 100km for the Simone Taylor Fund on Sunday

Will, 22, told LeedsLive: “When I joined I could see there was a cog missing in the machine. Simone was a big part of things here. Her fiance also works here and after speaking to him I really wanted to help in any way I could.”

Will is participating in the Three Peaks Challenge, but has also decided to take advantage of his own experience cycling, and has pledged to cycle 100km on Sunday, May 15, to raise money for the Simone Taylor Fund – specifically for Target Ovarian Cancer.

He hasn’t fully decided his route yet, but is potentially planning to go between Lancaster and Eldwick via the Yorkshire Dales.

“I lost my grandma to Ovarian cancer when I was 11 or 12,” Will said. “I feel it’s really important to mention that when somebody passes it’s not over. It’s important to keep their memory and name going.”

To sponsor Will visit his GoFundMe page here, or go here to donate to other fundraising events organised by the Simone Taylor fund.

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