GENEROUS shoppers at a Wrexham toy store have boosted a charity fund set up in memory of a talented teenager who died of a brain tumour.
Customers at The Entertainer in Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre raised £750 for Nicola’s Fund which helps families coping with childhood cancer to enjoy a well-deserved paid-for holiday.
The money came from customers who agreed to pay a little extra for their purchases by rounding up payments to the nearest pound with the store saving all the money and then choosing a deserving local cause to receive the cash.
Nicola Riley of Llay 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.
Before she passed away she talked about setting up a charity that would enable young people undergoing gruelling cancer treatments the chance to enjoy a holiday with their families.
She had enjoyed a family holiday to Florida the year before she died and was concerned her friends undergoing treatments for cancer would not have the same opportunity she had or maybe would be too unwell to travel such long distances.
After she died, her mum and dad, Debbie and Steve Riley, set up Nicola’s Fund which now helps more than 40 families a year by funding holidays and breaks for children with cancer and their families.
Steve Riley, who works with Wrexham-based Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management, said the donation would pay for a family to enjoy a holiday at one of the two caravans owned by the charity.
He said: “All the money we raise through Nicola’s fund goes to improving the quality of life of children with cancer. We send people away on holidays to our two caravans at Greenacres, Porthmadog.
“Cancer is a devastating illness and the chemotherapy and other treatments are just awful. We used to send families to Center Parcs for a week and give them £500 spending money but by purchasing our own caravans we are able to help more families more effectively.
“And every year we put on a Nicola’s Fund Christmas party at Chester Racecourse. Last Christmas we had 200 young people there. Father Christmas came along and everyone, from babies to teenagers aged up to 17 received a Christmas gift.”
Nicola’s mum, Debbie, said: “Nicola was our only child and she was very caring. We set up Nicola’s Fund because it was her idea, it’s what she wanted us to do.
“I know Nicola would be very proud of what we have achieved through the charity that carries her name. We have raised almost £600,000 since we launched Nicola’s Fund and helped more than 530 families.
“Most of the families we help are from North Wales and the North West although we have helped some young cancer victims that live in Stoke-on-Trent and even Birmingham. If we can help we will.
“We have a group of trustees and patrons. They are all volunteers and roll up their sleeves and get stuck in doing whatever is needed. All of them knew Nicola in some capacity and their own children grew up with her. It’s really a close-knit, family charity.”
She added: “We rely on the generosity of our supporters. The Entertainer has always been a fantastic help to us and have always been really supportive.
“Of course, while The Entertainer has donated this money to us it’s the people of Wrexham, the shoppers, who have actually raised the funds and we are so grateful for their generosity. It means a lot and every penny will help a young victim of cancer and their families.”
Vicky Smallwood, assistant manager at The Entertainer, Eagles Meadow, said all staff from the store are delighted to have been able to support Nicola’s Fund.
She said: “Nicola’s Fund is a wonderful charity and one we are only too happy to support. Cancer is a terrible disease and the treatments are not pleasant. We hope the money raised by our customers will help a family have a well-deserved and welcome break.”
Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre manager Kevin Critchley said: “The Entertainer’s fundraising scheme of allowing customers to round-up card purchases to the nearest pound is great.
“As a result customers of the Entertainer have raised a wonderful sum of money which will go a long way to helping Nicola’s Fund support a young cancer victim and their family.
“Cancer treatments are hard and often very difficult and to have the chance to go away for a break with your family must be wonderful.
“Nicola’s Fund is an amazing charity and was set up in honour and in memory of a remarkable young lady.”
For more information about Nicola’s Fund go to www.nicolasfund.co.uk
For more information about Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre including opening times please visit www.eagles-meadow.co.uk