Tributes to 'bubbly' Corby fundraiser Kate Howton who has died of cancer aged 56

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Her funeral takes place tomorrow (Wednesday, November 8)

Tributes have been paid to a Corby woman who dedicated her final years fundraising for mental health support in her home town.

Kate Howton, 56, vowed to ‘make the most of every day’, channelling her energy into raising money for Corby Mind where she had received help and support.

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Given 12 months to live, Kate continued receiving palliative care for a further three years helping the Mind team and masterminding charity events at her local pub.

Kate Howton in the garden at Mind in CorbyKate Howton in the garden at Mind in Corby
Kate Howton in the garden at Mind in Corby

Paying tribute to her sister Kate’s indomitable spirit, Julie Grigg said Kate didn’t let her illness define her.

She said: “Kate's journey was not an easy one, but through it all, she displayed a spirit of compassion, resilience and unwavering determination. She taught you the importance of cherishing every moment, finding strength in the face of adversity and supporting one another through life's most difficult challenges.

"For Kate, fundraising became a lifeline – a way to channel her energy and focus on supporting others. It became her mission to raise funds for local charities, particularly those dedicated to mental health support.

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"Over the years, she tirelessly organised events and initiatives, raising thousands of pounds and bringing hope to countless individuals. Her selfless dedication to helping others was recognised when she was nominated for a prestigious BBC Make A Difference Award, testament to the profound impact she had made in her community.”

Kate Howton in the Harper's Brook pub, CorbyKate Howton in the Harper's Brook pub, Corby
Kate Howton in the Harper's Brook pub, Corby

Kate was born on Christmas Eve 1966 in Bristol. Kate, her older siblings Nigel and Julie, and parents, Edna, a nurse, and Derek – a local GP - relocated to Corby where, Kate discovered her passion for show jumping and dressage.

She spent countless hours at stables in Harringworth, the bond between Kate and her horses so strong, that she requested her ashes be scattered at that location.

A pupil at Stamford High School for Girls, Kate enrolled on a university course, but after two-and-a-half years, made the decision to change direction. Following her heart, she trained to become a psychiatric nurse, intent on making a difference to the lives of others.

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Unfortunately, health issues resulting from a car accident disrupted her aspirations. Kate was then diagnosed with schizophrenia after she had a breakdown triggered by her brother Nigel's sudden death at the age of 32.

Kate Howton with fundraisers at Harper's BrookKate Howton with fundraisers at Harper's Brook
Kate Howton with fundraisers at Harper's Brook

During this challenging time, Kate sought support from Corby Mind, where she found ‘solace and understanding’.

Battling and beating breast cancer, she continued to show incredible resilience and she discovered a new purpose – fundraising.

In March 2019 a routine screening test discovered a growth in her food pipe and she was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.

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After undergoing a gruelling two-and-a-half hour operation to remove the tumour she was told by doctors that it was too aggressive and she had around a year to live.

With help from staff and regulars of Harper’s Brook pub on the Oakley Vale estate, Kate surpassed her fundraising target, doubling it to reach her £10,000 fundraising target for Mind in Corby.

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Paying tribute to Kate, Northamptonshire Mind said: “Kate's journey was a testament to her remarkable spirit, overflowing with both humour and resilience. Kate's humour was infectious. She had a way of finding the funny side of life's challenges, reminding us all to never take ourselves too seriously.

“Kate's resilience was truly awe-inspiring. Her courageous battle with cancer was marked not only by her determination but by her ability to keep smiling through it all. She taught us that strength isn't just about the absence of fear but the courage to keep going despite it.

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“Kate was a cherished member of our community, and we will forever remember her laughter and the lessons she shared.”

People who are unable to attend the funeral service in Kettering are being invited to pay their respects by standing in the garden of her local Harper’s Brook where so many of her fundraisers were held.

They said: “Kate will be doing one last ‘walk’ to the pub on the day (November 8) so if you can’t make the service and wish to pay your respects please feel free to stand in our garden as she goes past at around 10.30am.”

Julie added: “She had a zest for life that was contagious. She had a way of making everyone feel valued and loved.

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“Despite facing her own battles, she never lost sight of her positive spirit. Remaining upbeat, bubbly, and even bossy at times, as she radiated her infectious energy to those around her, whilst continuing to focus on others, refusing to let her illness define her.

“Throughout her journey, Kate had received an outpouring of love and support from family, friends and her local community.

Kate’s funeral service will be held at the Edgar Newman Chapel, Kettering Crematorium on Wednesday, November 8 at 11am.

No flowers by request, donations if desired for Mind may be made online at or sent to: Averil Phillips and Family, Independent Funeral Directors, Northampton House, Station Road, Kettering, Northants, NN15 7HH or call 01536 511197.

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