Maketu woman Gill Stock walked proudly as she remembered her late husband, under the flickering glow of candlelight.

The sombre ceremony at the Relay for Life event saw people decorate candle bags in memory of loved ones lost to cancer.

 PROUD PARTICIPANTS: Gill Stock and Nancy Havekotte at the Relay for Life in downtown Tauranga - Joel Ford

PROUD PARTICIPANTS: Gill Stock and Nancy Havekotte at the Relay for Life in downtown Tauranga - Joel Ford

Cancer survivors also walked the beginning lap of the 22-hour relay event that saw downtown Tauranga filled with activity over the weekend.

For 22 hours, Gill Stock and her eight teammates walked around the Tauranga waterfront to raise funds and awareness for cancer in the Relay for Life, which returned to the region after a four-year hiatus. Tauranga's first Relay for Life was held in March 2005. During the event, one walker from each team had to be on the track at all times.

When the Bay of Plenty Times caught up with Mrs Stock, walking beside her was her neighbour and teammate Nancy Havekotte, a cancer survivor. They were one of 39 teams comprising about 400 people who walked for 22 hours in the Cancer Society fundraiser.

"My husband died of cancer in September, hospice were so wonderful to him and I wanted to give something back. Then I read about it and I said to my daughter we should do it," Mrs Stock said.

"And I'm really glad we did. It was such a wonderful event for a wonderful cause. There were times when it was emotional but the atmosphere was absolutely positive and it was a serious fundraiser but it was fun."

Relay for Life is the Cancer Society's major fundraising team event, held nationwide. The Tauranga event was officially opened by Mayor Stuart Crosby and councillor and paralympian Tony Christiansen.

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