Charity ball backed by Wrexham firm raises £30,000

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Nicola’s parents Debbie and Steve.
Nicola is pictured at home shortly before she passed away aged 15.
Nicola is pictured at home shortly before she passed away aged 15.

A CHARITY ball in aid of a fund set up to remember a much-loved Llay teenager who died of a brain tumour has raised £30,000.

Wrexham-based Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management Ltd was the main sponsor of the Rydell High Ball which took place at the Chester Racecourse pavilion in aid of Nicola’s Fund.

The charity, which pays for children battling cancer to enjoy a holiday with their family, was set up by Nicola’s parents, Steve and Debbie Riley.

The huge end-of-evening total from Saturday’s ball, which was attended by 250 people, will go towards a new caravan for families to visit at Black Rock Sands in Porthmadog.

The charity, which is marking its 10th anniversary this year and has now raised more than £500,000 in Nicola’s memory, already has one caravan on the site.

Nicola was five days away from her 15th birthday when she passed away on April 20, 2005, following a long and determined fight against a brain tumour.

The kind and witty youngster was talented in both dance and drama which earned her a place at the prestigious Chester Hammond School.

The idea for the fund came to Nicola when she was enjoying a holiday in Florida the year before she died where she enjoyed swimming with dolphins.

She was concerned for her friends at Alder Hey who perhaps wouldn’t have the opportunity of a special holiday like hers, especially those who were too poorly to travel such a distance.

It was Nicola’s kind heart and thought for others which inspired her mum, Debbie, and dad, Steve, who works with Hadlow Edwards, to carry out their daughter’s wishes and set up a charity to ensure other children battling cancer could be treated to some fun and laughter via paid-for holidays.

The ball, on Saturday, included a champagne reception, three-course meal, a diamond-necklace giveaway, an auction and dance performances by Hammond School pupils.

Touching speeches were made by Nicola’s mum, her former head teacher at Merton House prep school Jim Watts and Nicola’s Fund beneficiary Anna Culshaw who talked about what the charity had done for her.

Many of Nicola’s friends enjoyed the evening which was dedicated to remembering the bright and thoughtful youngster.

It was attended by the Hadlow Edwards team as part of their support of the event too.

Medwyn Edwards, Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management Director, is a Patron of Nicola’s Fund, and said: “The ball was a fantastic event which Nicola’s parents tell me would have Nicola’s whole-hearted approval. I know my team thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

“As a family firm, at the heart of the community we serve, we are always keen to support local causes like Nicola’s Fund which works very hard to help families facing devastating situations.

“I know Steve and Debbie very well, both professionally and personally, and I am full of admiration for what they have achieved with the charity and we are pleased to play our part in backing what they do.”

Nicola’s dad, Steve, 57, who works with Hadlow Edwards, said: “The sort of sponsorship we receive from Hadlow Edwards makes such a difference to the type of event we are able to stage. It means we can push the boundaries and create an event which the charity can be really proud of and helps us to raise more money.

“We must say a huge thank you to Hadlow Edwards for their support and to all those who helped us make the event such a success.”

Nicola’s mum Debbie, 53, of Llay, said: “It was an emotional evening for both Steve and me because a lot of the people there on the evening have been with us, supporting Nicola’s Fund, since day one. Her friends, schoolteachers and others who knew her well and come back each time to remember her.

“It reminds us all that this is still very much about Nicola, she’s been the catalyst for it all, and she seems to be able to pull us all together in this way, all these years down the line.

“I think Nicola would have been overwhelmed by what has been achieved in this past decade but also very proud of us all. I think she would be having a good laugh about it and while the organisation of events like the ball can get stressful, she would be telling me and her Dad to pull our socks up and get on with it.”

The purchase of a second caravan at Black Rock Sands is a tremendous achievement in Nicola’s memory but her parents and the charity still have a long-term goal to build a special retreat for families with terminally ill children.

Lodges sponsored by different companies would provide the accommodation and there would be a main building in the middle, housing a swimming pool and other activities. Specialist nurses would be on standby to deal with any medical emergencies.

For more information about Nicola’s Fund go to www.nicolasfund.co.uk