Grimston mum’s treatment inspires fundraising

From left, Claire Vaughan, Sarah Barnes and their mum Helen Gray. Picture: Supplied. ANL-141119-135252001
From left, Claire Vaughan, Sarah Barnes and their mum Helen Gray. Picture: Supplied. ANL-141119-135252001
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The Macmillan Care and Cancer Treatment Centre at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has received almost £3,000 thanks to two sisters living 5,500 miles apart.

When Helen Gray, 62, of Grimston, needed treatment for cancer, her daughters on both sides of the Atlantic took up the challenge to raise cash for the chemotherapy unit at the hospital.

Claire Vaughan, 37, a photographic model who lives in Frazier Park near Los Angeles in California and Sarah Barnes (35), a childminder from Wisbech St Mary decided that they would raise funds for the unit that provides life-saving treatment for cancer patients in honour of their mother, who has been receiving treatment there.

The two young women planned their own events with Sarah deciding that, as she was most afraid of heights, she would face her demons and go sky-diving while Claire decided to hold an informal dinner for 80 covers in her local Moose Lodge. The dinner was accompanied by live music and featured a raffle and an auction of donated items ranging from western horse saddles to limited-edition motorcycle helmets and works of art.

The event was a huge success and hundreds of people donated to the cause when Claire put the event on Facebook. An electronic facility was put in place for people to make donations in their local currency, thanks to Just Giving. When the appeal closed, she had raised in excess of $3,394, about £2,100.

Sarah raised hundreds of pounds in promised donations but then discovered she was pregnant and so was immediately banned from jumping out of aeroplanes. However, her husband, Andrew, stepped into the breach and completed a successful jump at Chatteris Airfield in October. After all the sponsorship pledges were realised, Sarah and Andrew raised £800.

A cheque was presented to the Macmillan Centre on behalf of the sisters by Sarah and mother, Helen.

Helen said: “I am incredibly proud of both my daughters and tremendously grateful to Andrew for stepping in for Sarah. The generosity of the people of California was also overwhelming and it seems incredible that people so far away should be so generous with their cash for a hospital in a town that most of them have never even heard of!

“I am delighted that so much has been raised to help local cancer sufferers.”

Helen (62) was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in April after returning from a family visit to the USA. Following a rather bleak prognosis, she has received chemotherapy treatment at the QEH and extensive surgery at Addenbrookes in Cambridge and has every prospect of making a full recovery following the end of her treatment next month.