Charity Challenge 2016
Vote to help these worthy charities put forward by Candis members
Now is your chance to vote for one of these deserving charities to benefit from a fundraising pot containing £6,000.
We asked readers to nominate a cause close to their hearts and we have now shortlisted three to go head-to-head in The Candis Charity Challenge, now in its third year.
Read each nomination and vote for the charity you wish to support. Every single vote will equal a £1 donation to your chosen charity from the fundraising pot. With your help, each charity could receive up to £2,000.
Candis Club members have helped make a huge difference to many health charities and projects through donations made from magazine subscription revenue. You’ve helped raise £1.5 million for all the charities who’ve taken part in The Candis Big Give. Overall, Candis has donated over £55 million to good causes since 1962.
So what are you waiting for? Get voting and get sharing!
“Baby Grace is always in our hearts”
Aimee with her husband Frank, son Freddy and daughter Susie
Charity: Tiny Tickers
Nominated by: Aimee Foster
How the money will be used: To provide training for up to 20 sonographers, helping to boost prenatal detection rates of heart defects and potentially saving many babies’ lives
Aimee, 35, from New Milton, Hampshire, lost her, Grace, from a heart defect and tells us why the work of Tiny Tickers is so important.
I became involved with Tiny Tickers after my baby girl Grace died from a serious heart defect at just one-day old. My husband Frank and I were over the moon when we found out we were expecting a second baby. After our 12-week scan went well, we excitedly told our daughter Susie, aged two then, and rushed out to buy baby clothes.
At the 20-week scan we were overjoyed to discover we were having another girl. But then began every parent’s nightmare when the doctor said, “Your baby’s heart is too big.” She was diagnosed with a rare and serious heart condition called Ebstein’s anomaly, which meant one of her heart valves had not formed properly, causing the blood to flow the wrong way. Termination was suggested but this was never an option for us – we had to give her a chance to live.
The doctors warned she might not even survive until birth. Over the following weeks, Grace was such an active baby – kicking and flipping around in my belly – and we hoped she’d prove them wrong. Defying all odds, Grace made it to 32 weeks and I was booked in for a Caesarean. Born at 1.55pm on 18 April, she was whisked away and we watched helplessly as our tiny, beautiful baby was dwarfed with wires and machines – but she was alive and fighting for her life. I prayed we could take her home soon.
Then, at 5am the next day, Grace suffered a cardiac arrest. The doctors tried their best but she was too ill to live. We made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw life support. We had one last cuddle without all the wires and machines as she breathed her last breath in the arms of her parents who loved her dearly. We went on to have a gorgeous, healthy baby boy, Freddy, but there isn’t a single day that goes by when Grace isn’t in our hearts and thoughts.
I was so shocked to discover how common heart defects in babies are and that so many go undetected in pregnancy. It affects one in every 125 babies born – that’s more than 3,000 newborns each year in the UK with a life-threatening heart condition. Fewer than half of those are spotted during pregnancy and, in some parts of the UK, detection rates are as low as one in four. Despite some defects being spotted soon after birth, more than 1,000 newborns leave hospitals in the UK every year with no one realising their lives are in danger. It breaks my heart to think of other parents going through what we went through.
Tiny Tickers is a small charity with a huge, crucial mission. It trains health professionals to identify heart defects during 20-week scans including thousands of sonographers, who help to double the prenatal detection rates of heart defects from 23 per cent to around 47 per cent over the past 15 years. But more needs to be done. The charity also spreads awareness of how parents can spot the signs of heart problems in their babies. Find out more at tinytickers.org
RP Fighting Blindness
“My boys are slowly going blind”
Charity: RP Fighting Blindness
Nominated by: Sharon Baxter
How the money will be used: To help fund research to find a treatment or cure for retinitis pigmentosa and support those affected
Sharon, 58, from Dartford, Kent, hopes for a cure for progressive eye disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP) before her two sons’ sight deteriorates.
I felt blessed to have three sons born healthy. My middle son, Mark, and youngest, Russell, were always bumping into things as kids but I just put it down to childhood clumsiness. I was always telling them off for sitting too close to the TV.
They were both diagnosed as short-sighted after a teacher noticed they were straining to see the blackboard, and when I took them for a routine optician’s appointment to get spare glasses we were told something wasn’t right. The optician said they both had pigmentation on their retinas – like freckles of dust – that was obscuring their vision.
After a load of tests it was confirmed they had X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), a type of RP, which is an inherited condition that causes progressive vision loss. I had no symptoms but I discovered I was a carrier. I was shocked, I’d never heard of it and wasn’t aware of any history of it in the family. In some families RP may have been present for several generations but in others there may be no family members known to be affected. Thankfully, their older brother Darren doesn’t have it.
Russell was six and Mark aged eight when we were told they would slowly go blind. It was heartbreaking to see their peripheral vision worsen – the blind spots eventually merged to give them both tunnel vision. Russell in particular is sports mad and would have loved to played football with his friends but his limited sight made it impossible.
As teenagers, their condition curbed their social lives – they rarely went out at night to join their friends for a drink due to their blindness. Driving a car is usually a big deal for young boys but they weren’t able to have and enjoy that independence.
I’m so proud of how they’ve both coped. The pair of them work – Russell is employed at a local benefits agency and Mark worked in pharmaceuticals for 15 years until he was recently made redundant, and he now wants to work for a charity helping blind people. Mark tirelessly fundraises for RP Fighting Blindness and has raised around £10,000 by running the London Marathon, trekking the Sahara desert, taking part in a skydive and will be trekking through Iceland in July. Mark tirelessly fundraises for RP Fighting Blindness and has raised around £10,000 by running the London Marathon, trekking the Sahara desert and taking part in a skydive, to name just a few. He attends all the research conferences; he’s desperate for a concrete treatment to be found.
Mark is married and spent ages doing up his new house but it’s a very frustrating condition – he gets irritated when he puts something down like a hammer and can’t find it. Russell is engaged. They both have fantastic partners but it makes me sad to know that they are slowly going to lose their sight and independence.
RP Fighting Blindness was founded in 1975 by sufferers of the condition and
has since evolved into a respected medical research charity and a nationwide organisation providing support and information. Progress in vision-saving treatments is being made but more funding is desperately needed. I just pray it comes in time to help my boys. Find out more at rpfightingblindness.org.uk
Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
“Survival rates of this awful disease have barely changed since the 70s”
Charity: Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
Nominated by: Bernadette Lunn
How the money will be used: To help fund research to enable better detection, diagnosis and treatment
Bernadette Lunn, 57, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, lost her husband Nigel, also 57, last year and wants to see sufferers have hope in the future.
My husband Nigel had been feeling off and had lost his appetite – we just thought he had a bout of flu. But then his skin started to become yellow, so he went to his GP, who referred him to the hospital. Follow-up tests then confirmed he had pancreatic cancer. We were in total shock; he’d always been so fit and healthy.
There are often no or few symptoms in the early stages, which makes it difficult to diagnose and therefore allows the cancer to spread undetected. Nigel had jaundice, which occurs in about 50 per cent of pancreatic cancer cases and is caused by a blockage in the bile duct.
The first doctor we saw told us it wasn’t possible to operate. I thought, “OK, there must be other treatments they can try.” Then we saw a cancer specialist who delivered the painful blow – his chances of survival were low and sadly there is no cure.
Nigel was 56 – it didn’t seem old to us at all. We’d been married for 32 years, and we always imagined we’d grow old together. We have a daughter, Rosemary, who’s 27. He loved his job as a train driver, which he’d been all his life. We so enjoyed our walking holidays together – you take it for granted that you have all the time in the world to spend with your loved ones until something like this hits you suddenly.
The doctors tried Nigel on a course of chemotherapy but he kept getting reoccurring infections. He was spending so much time in and out of hospital that we decided to stop treatment and enjoy what time we had left together at home. His doctor agreed this was best.
It was tough watching the man we loved become weaker and weaker. You feel helpless. Nigel passed away five-and-a-half months later, surrounded by his loving family. He was such a kind and generous man – in his last days, he was more concerned for his family than for himself.
You hope that when cancer strikes the medics can work their magic. But with pancreatic cancer there is little hope. Thankfully the survival rates for many cancers, such as breast, have improved over the decades. I learnt that 40 years ago, just three per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived five years or more. Shockingly, that figure remains the same today. Nearly 9,000 people each year are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK.
It’s too late for my Nigel, but it’s vital that medical research continues to combat this awful disease and that’s why I support Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Its mission is to defeat pancreatic cancer by funding innovative, world-class research that will lead to better detection, diagnosis and treatment. Find out more at visit pcrf.org.uk
VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED
Please note: Only one vote per person. Each charity can only receive a maximum of £2,000. Voting will close on 31/05/2016. Any money left in the fundraising pot when the challenge ends will be retained by Candis Club and will be used for future charitable donations.