Ray of Hope appeal reaches milestone

THE East Anglian Daily Times' campaign to raise £100,000 for breast cancer charity Breakthrough has smashed through the halfway mark in just over six months.

THE East Anglian Daily Times' campaign to raise £100,000 for breast cancer charity Breakthrough has smashed through the halfway mark in just over six months.

The Ray of Hope appeal was launched at the end of April to help increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for vital research at the charity's dedicated centre in London.

Each year, almost 41,000 women and around 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK, with more than 1,000 women dying from the disease every month.

To help the fight against it, people across the region have organised events in their homes, schools, village halls and at their tennis courts in a bid to raise the cash for our campaign.

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They have put on their trainers - and pink bras - to run marathons and half-marathons, have sipped coffee, eaten pink meals, sung, painted and created to encourage people to give them sponsorship.

EADT readers have sent cheques into our offices, with many giving up birthday and anniversary presents and instead asking friends and families to give money to Ray of Hope.

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Our columnist Rhona Damant, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago at the age of 38 and now has secondary inoperable tumours in her lungs, liver, brain and spine, launched the campaign along with her book.

Sales of Sit Down and Stop Laughing, which has been bought by people across the country, have boosted the campaign through the £50,000 barrier.

Ollie Hatcher, one of the founding members of Suffolk Breakthrough, said: “It's brilliant to have reached the appeal's halfway mark. People across Suffolk and north Essex have been fantastic donating money and raising funds in such imaginative ways to reach our target.

“Fifty thousand pounds buys enough specialist chemicals and essential equipment to enable three world-leading breast cancer scientists at Breakthrough's research centre to carry out their research for a year.”

Rhona added: “This is just absolutely brilliant.”

Two weeks ago, 24 women braved the icy weather and played tennis all morning at Brandeston Hall Junior School, near Framlingham, to raise money for the charity.

With the help of tennis coach Trevor Wright, they played doubles all morning across six of the school's courts, raising more than £700.

The school has been tireless in arranging activities to raise money for Breakthrough. Currently, year eight pupils are holding their own version of the hit TV singing show X Factor, which they have dubbed 8 Factor.

Auditions for the talent contest have already started and the contestants have their own panel of three judges to contend with.

The group will be split into juniors, seniors and teachers with the final five acts in each group competing for the overall title during the school's Christmas lunch celebrations on December 13.

Other schools across Suffolk have also been organising events to raise money for the appeal. Ipswich School raised more than £1,000 by making Breakthrough its charity of the term, while Sudbury Upper School donated more than £260.

Cherry Trees School, in Risby, held a big breakfast for 200 parents and children, raising £1,300. Farlingaye High School, in Woodbridge, also donated cash to the appeal and 2nd Hadleigh Brownies gave money as part of their coin challenge.

Children, aged between four and seven, at Woodbridge School's Queen's House raised £197 through a harvest festival collection while the seven- to ten-year-old pupils at The Abbey held a pink day and added £532 to the pot for Breakthrough.

Women at Malcolm Andrew Office Solutions, in Ipswich, enjoyed being pampered while raising more than £1,000 for Breakthrough.

They held a ladies evening at the premises in Farthing Road and more than 100 women went along and treated themselves to facials, massages, reflexology, beauty products, and jewellery.

Tracey Evans, from the company, who organised the event, said: “We are delighted to have raised so much for such an important cause. Most of us have young children, and while we appreciate that a cure might not be found in our generation, we hope that in our children's lifetime, one will be found.”

Deben Valley Young Farmers Junior Club have presented a cheque for £250 to Suffolk Breakthrough, which they raised by holding a hog roast, disco and barn dance for the parents of the group's youngsters.

From velvet coats to chocolates, equestrian paintings to walking sticks, there was a wide variety of Christmas gifts and crafts on sale at a special fair for Breakthrough.

Pam and Ray Pluck organised the event in their barn in Foxearth, between Long Melford and Cavendish, last Friday and Saturday .

The £2 entrance fee for the sale was donated directly to the charity, raising more than £1,000 and Rhona was also there among more than 30 stalls signing copies of her book.

Mrs Pluck said: “I would like to say thank you to David Burr, of Long Melford, for sponsoring us; fantastic thanks to Rhona, who spent both days on the door and brought a lot of people in; Hadleigh Maid donated all the profits they made on the stand to Breakthrough; and thank you to all my little band of volunteers who were really brilliant and who I couldn't have done without.”

Hundreds of women dressed in pink “walked the wildside” across 13 miles of Suffolk coastline from Thorpeness on October 6 to bring in a mighty £6,500 for the appeal.

Simultaneous tennis matches were also held across Suffolk for the charity as part of its annual Bouncing Balls for Breakthrough event, which was spearheaded by Next Generation, in Ipswich, boosting the appeal by £3,000.

Artists exhibited their work on the subject of women and breast issues at StowHealth Centre, to attract attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with painter Joy Pirkle unveiling her portrait of Rhona. The event raised a massive £845 for the charity.

The campaign was kicked off with a pledge of £250 from the Rotary Club of Felixstowe. The Inner Wheel Club of Sudbury also held a pink-themed evening and donated £275, while its Ipswich East club raised £734.

Woodbridge Round Table presented Suffolk Breakthrough with £1,000 and Martin Sylvester, mayor of the town, named the group as one of his charities of the year.

Michel Tester, a personal trainer and senior karate instructor from Ipswich, single-handedly raised more than 10% of the campaign's target.

Mr Tester brought together EKKA (the karate association) clubs across Suffolk in a massive fundraising push. He also trained a team to run the Woodbridge 10K and ran the London Marathon himself to raise the cash.

There were more runners, both male and female, dressed in pink skirts and raspberry-coloured t-shirts pacing the 10K course around Woodbridge in May for Breakthrough.

After being inspired by Rhona, Paul Excell pledged to raise £10,000 for Breakthrough and recently completed the New York marathon.

Mother-of-three Tammy Nunn, 42, who is starting chemotherapy, has raised more than £1,800 for the breast cancer charity by having her shoulder-length hair shaved off while her friend David Larter had his chest waxed.

Becky Eglinton, from Yoxford, who has survived breast cancer, told her experiences of the disease to inspire people to give to Ray of Hope and donated 10% of her first day's takings from her new shop, Charlie's Bear Children's Wear, in Saxmundham, to the appeal.

Readers of the EADT have also been generously giving to the campaign, including Mrs Sealey, from King's Road, Glemsford, who held a cheese and wine evening, raising more than £400.

Colleagues of Terry Rice, from Colne Engaine, near Colchester, held a whip-around for Breakthrough instead of buying him gifts for his 60th birthday.

Pauline Squirrell also gave up her birthday gifts, and her friends and family donated a total of £1,000 to the campaign.

Mr Taylor, from Nickelby Road, Chelmsford, sent in a cheque for £100 and Mr Parker, from Richardson Road, East Bergholt, also gave money to Ray of Hope.

Margaret and Henry Gillings, from Debenham, asked for donations instead of presents for their ruby wedding anniversary, while Mac and Janet Hambling, from Laxfield, who were also celebrating their 40 years of marriage, sent in donations from their friends and family.

A special lunch for women was held at The Galley restaurant, in Woodbridge, in aid of the charity, raising £1,440, which will push the appeal over the halfway mark.

Ugur Vata, owner of the restaurant, said: “Unfortunately we can't do much to control this disease at the moment but we can contribute to the research into it for the future.”

And more events are being planned across East Anglia to help raise the next £50,000 for the breast cancer charity.

Among them is a Christmas sale and coffee morning planned for the Shire Hall, in Woodbridge, on December 9 between 10am and 12noon.

A collection will also be held at the Carols for All concert put on at the United Reform Church, in Stowmarket, tonight . Tickets are already sold out but there will be some places available to buy at the doors, which open at 6pm.

Linda Grave, another founding member of Suffolk Breakthrough, said: “One in nine women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime but more women than ever in the UK are now surviving thanks to better awareness, better treatment and better screening.

“All of us at Suffolk Breakthrough would like to say thank you for your wonderful support.”

Helen Cook, another founding member of the county's group, added: “The response from EADT readers has been outstanding. I think it demonstrates just how many people are touched by this disease and how many are willing to help fight towards a 'future free from the fear of breast cancer'.

“The work of this charity means a huge amount to us volunteers at Suffolk Breakthrough, but it is so encouraging to get such an overwhelming response from readers.”

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