Miss Doncaster starts charity project after losing her friend to cancer
Reigning Miss Doncaster GB Emma Garbutt has found a light at the end of the tunnel by starting her own charity project after losing her best friend just months after reaching the Miss Great Britain finals.
Emma, a country music artist born and raised in Doncaster, and known for her appearance on The Voic UK, was named Miss Doncaster GB in October last year after losing her music work due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Emma decided to turn her hand to something new and see where the pageant world would take her, she said: “I lost my livelihood really, I watched everything that I spent years building disappear within months.
“I was trying to keep the music going with livestreams but it just didn’t feel the same.
“I decided to fill my time with something completely different,” said the 27-year-old.
Whilst Emma admits she didn’t think she would ever hear back from the 76-year-old beauty pageant, she received an email in September 2020 to inform her that she had been successful in securing the regional title and would compete for the coveted national ‘Miss Great Britain’ title in 2021, a moment she shared with her best friend Luke.
"Luke had a rare form of bone cancer called Ewings Sarcoma and was so determined to spend as much time with his friends as he could when lockdown was finally eased last year, we were out shopping when I got the email to say I had made it to the final and he was so over the moon.
"He kept saying that he was going to be in the front row cheering me on, I know he knew he likely wouldn’t be there but he just wanted to support me in any way he could.”
During Luke’s long battle with cancer he was helped by the Teenage Cancer Trust and asked that money would be raised for them in his name, so, his friends organised different charity events including a head and beard shave on close friends Josh and brother Ben.
Unfortunately Luke passed away In the early hours of the morning on the day they were due to do the event, but Josh and Ben went ahead anyway and the fundraiser hit £3,500.
"The Teenage Cancer Trust sent us some banners and balloons to help out with the fundraiser so after Luke passed away I sent them over an email to thank them for everything they did for him and for us and they responded pretty much instantly.
"I felt really at ease talking to Heather from the charity and she couldn’t thank us enough for the money raised, I decided there and then that I wanted to do something more permanent,” explained Emma.
"Heather told me that during the Covid-19 pandemic people had stop giving donations in kind to the teenage cancer wards, I decided to collect a few products to donate to our local ward and it just took off.
"I’ve had a ridiculous amount of donations from different individuals and businesses, I had a huge donation from the skincare brand Weleda.
"The support from so many people really pushed me to want to make this a full-time project."
Emma decided to start The Kindness Drive, which involves collecting and distributing ‘home comfort’ items to Teenage Cancer Wards around Yorkshire.
"There were times when Luke would be taken into hospital with no notice and would worry about other people having to bring him the things he wanted or needed, I know sometimes it would make him feel as though he was losing independence.
"I want to make sure that in future young cancer patients can have the option to grab what they need whilst on the ward without having to have somebody else choose for them or go out shopping for them.
"I’m so lucky that I have this huge platform now, something that Luke was so excited about that I can utilise to really do good for people who need it.
"I have the opportunity to work hand in hand with the Miss Great Britain organisation to make The Kindness Drive a national project, my goal is to eventually become a registered charity and provide a store room in every teenage cancer ward around the UK to be used by patients, I hope that my work can give back some independence to young cancer patients.
"I want to do whatever I can to make Luke proud and make sure that his kindness can carry on without him physically here with us.”
Emma personally offers to pay for postage of any donations or collects them herself if possible.
The project also has an Amazon wish list where you can choose needed products to be sent directly to The Kindness Drive HQ.
Emma also has an active fundraising page with all donations going directly to the Teenage Cancer Trust – www.justgiving.com/Emmajadegarbutt
“We are so incredibly lucky to have received the support we already have with The Kindness Drive but we do run entirely on donations from the public and really kind companies.
"We welcome all donations of unopened and unused products, anything you might think would make someone’s life easier.
"If your best friend was poorly, what would you get them?”
The Miss Great Britain finals will take place in Leicester on September 16-17 where Emma will be hoping to take home the crown, but says the biggest reward from this experience is finding The Kindness Drive and being able to bring light to others despite her own grief.