Cancer grief sparks Leeds friends’ plan for charity ball

Friends Rebecca Vertigan, 36, right, and Rachel Thornton, 26, left.
Friends Rebecca Vertigan, 36, right, and Rachel Thornton, 26, left.
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Two friends whose lives have been repeatedly touched by cancer over the past few years have organised a glitzy ball to raise money for charity.

Rebecca Vertigan, 36, of Middleton and Rachel Thornton, 26, of Carr Gate, Wakefield, wanted to set up a fundraising event after witnessing numerous family members and friends battle the devastating disease.

The ball will take place on March 16 next year at the Marriott Hotel in Leeds in aid of St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds and Cancer Research UK and comes after the pair’s first ball, held in 2016, was a resounding success. That event raised nearly £12,500 for the two charities and was held in memory of Rebecca’s father-in-law John McNicholl, who died in 2015 after a short battle with lung and brain cancer.

But since his death, the women said cancer has continued to be a “daily part of their life” as more people have been struck down with it, leading to their desire to host another ball.

Rebecca said: “Three years ago, neither of our lives had been affected directly by this disease but a further two years on, it has changed everything and seemingly becoming a topic of our everyday conversation.”

It was while planning their first ball in 2016 that Rachel’s aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and Rebecca’s best friend Karen was also diagnosed, sadly losing her battle two months before the October ball.

Rachel’s partner has also since lost both his grandparents within six months to cancer and the niece of the late John McNicholl has also been battling acute myeloid leukaemia.

Rebecca said: “Since 2015 there have been so many people important to us affected by this horrible disease. There are daily reminders that not only does awareness need to be raised but much needed funds are required for charities to be able to continue with life-changing research to be carried out and for hospices to provide the outstanding palliative care for patients and their loved ones.”

She added: “This event is in memory of those that sadly cannot be there to share the night with us, for those who have and are still being so brave, supported by those being rocks for their loved ones.

“We are just two friends wanting to make a difference as a result of our personal experiences.”

The ball will feature live music, a three course dinner, guest speakers, a live auction and DJ until 1am. Tickets £55 or £500 for a table of 10. Contact Rebecca on 07867 396 266 or Rachel on 07809 422 353.

For more inforamtion search ‘Charity ball 2019’ on Facebook.