When Niamh Meredith lost her mum to cancer at the tender age of ten, little did she know her loss was to be just the start of a challenging decade.

For the young shop supervisor, from Weymouth, has since seen several close family members affected by the same faulty gene linked to her mum’s death which increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

But the 20-year-old believes the adversity in the early years of her life has turned her into the woman she is today and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

And that fighting spirit has prompted her to pledge to take part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life and she is inviting others to join her.

This year is the tenth year in a row Niamh is taking part, along with her Godmother Jane Wardle, to raise awareness. Jane has supported and encouraged Niamh since losing her best friend to cancer.

Niamh and her godmother are to be special guests at Race for Life in Poole, on Sunday, and Niamh will ring the bell which sets runners off.

Niamh’s mum, Christine, was only 45 when she died peacefully at home with her young daughter by her side. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer just before Niamh’s second birthday.

The family have since discovered Christine was carrying the BRACA2 gene, a faulty gene which gives the carrier an approximately 70 per cent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and an estimated 20 per cent risk of ovarian cancer. Christine was one of seven children, six of whom carried the gene. One of her sisters and two nieces were diagnosed at the same time. Her nieces were both in their early twenties and one of her cousins was said at the time to be the youngest person in Britain to have undergone a double mastectomy.

Of 20 cousins, 10 are carriers of the faulty gene and have undergone surgery as a preventative measure.

Niamh, a shop supervisor who lives in Southlands Road with two older sisters tested negative for the gene a year ago but both of her sisters are carriers.

Niamh said: “What I went through as a child was horrible and if I can do anything to make a difference to someone else’s life, I will do it.

“It was a bittersweet feeling when I tested negative because my sisters were found to be carriers”.

Niamh said her dad, Alan, 53, who worked in a special needs school, had been amazing. “Before mum died she asked him to do something in her memory and he has since raised £12,000 for research into breast cancer by taking part in two London Marathons.

“Mum and Dad were together since meeting at Pontins in 1988 and Dad never remarried or wanted to. He was a hotel manager but, because he worked really long hours, he gave it up after mum died to look after us. He has been our rock,” added Niamh.