A family's gift to cancer patients this Christmas

Craig Mullen, Michelle Powell, Courtney Spinks, Liam Paisley, acting ward manager Jeni Hibbert, Mick Brakewell, Emma Hardman, Ben Kilner, Rosemere Cancer Foundations Amy Hilton and the wards patient liaison Sandra Finch
Craig Mullen, Michelle Powell, Courtney Spinks, Liam Paisley, acting ward manager Jeni Hibbert, Mick Brakewell, Emma Hardman, Ben Kilner, Rosemere Cancer Foundations Amy Hilton and the wards patient liaison Sandra Finch
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A family has shown cross-continental Warrior spirit to bring Christmas cheer to patients at Rosemere Cancer Centre.

Mick Brakewell, 68, who is a past president of Bamber Bridge Catholic Club, and his daughter Helen Duchamp, arranged for players from Wigan Warriors rugby league club to visit patients to hand out chocolates, mince pies and Christmas cake.

The Warriors Ben Kilner with Malcolm Baxenden at Rosemere Cancer Centre

The Warriors Ben Kilner with Malcolm Baxenden at Rosemere Cancer Centre

In addition, Mick and Helen had contacted a host of businesses to ask for donations of gifts for all patients on the 28-bed ward to receive on Christmas Day. Usually, Rosemere Cancer Foundation funds gifts.

Helen, who lives in France, said: “We have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity. When dad went into Clintons Cards, staff bought wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and sticky tape, which they then gave to us. The same thing happened at Boots in Walton-le-Dale – although we were given gifts on behalf of the company, some of the staff also bought presents, which they gave to us for patients.”

The family decided to take on the mantle of Santa’s helpers as a thank you for the support it received from Ribblesdale Ward staff last year.

Helen lost her mum, 64-year-old Jill Brakewell, to leukaemia in November last year.

The Warriors Liam Paisley with Richard Sayle at Rosemere Cancer Centre

The Warriors Liam Paisley with Richard Sayle at Rosemere Cancer Centre

She explained: “My mum Jill was a patient on the ward and the staff couldn’t have done enough for her and for us. Acting ward manager Jeni Hibbert usually buys gifts for patients with the money given to her by Rosemere Cancer Foundation but this year, I knew she was getting married and super busy so I asked if we could help. The ward will always be a special place to us.

“Mum loved Christmas and she would want us to spread some Christmas cheer on her behalf as she always worked hard to make Christmas really fun and special.”

Helen, a mother-of-three, also organised an Easter chocolate treat for Ribblesdale patients and with dad and her brothers Roger and David, raised more than £6,000 for Rosemere Cancer Foundation through a spring music and laughter night at Bamber Bridge Catholic Club.

John Wright, Jill’s brother, raised more than £1,500 for the charity when he cycled from London to Ghent in the summer and other family members took part in Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s annual Walk the Lights through Blackpool Illuminations in October.

Ben Kilner and Malcolm Baxenden ar Rosemere Cancer Centre

Ben Kilner and Malcolm Baxenden ar Rosemere Cancer Centre

Wigan Warriors Craig Mullen with John James at Rosemere Cancer Foundation

Wigan Warriors Craig Mullen with John James at Rosemere Cancer Foundation