What has 2017 got in store for Pride of the Isle and Team Verrico charities?

With 2017 just around the corner we asked the Isle's two major charities to reminisce on the last 12 months and to look to the new year.

Thursday, 29th December 2016, 12:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:11 pm
Team Verrico

Here is what Leesa Sharpe of Pride of the Isle had to say.

As the new year approaches, the committee of Lex’s Legacy Pride of the Isle are deep in preparation for their forthcoming ball on January 28.

Held in memory of Alexander (Lex) Strong of Epworth who lost his three year battle with Neuroblastoma cancer on January 25, 2013, the ball is a sell-out having sold 700 tickets.

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The support we have had so far has been incredible and to date we have raised £120,000. For some of us who are healthy and have families around we are lucky enough not to have to deal with illness, disability or even bereavement but sadly for others this is not the case.

That’s why Pride of the Isle was created to help make memories for the terminally ill, buy special equipment for the disabled and to help make a difference in our community.

This year our January ball raised £15,000. As always our pledge to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice is to give them half of the money raised at this yearly event.

The remainder is in an account awaiting anyone who needs our help and so far this year we have helped the following:

In May, Lucas, a little boy with cerebral palsy, was in need of a sensory room at home to help with learning and play so we donated a sum of money to make this possible.

In June, Lily, a young girl who had been burnt and was receiving treatment at Sheffield Childrem’s Hospital, received gifts and a balloon to help lift her spirit at such a distressing painful time.

Kasabian, a little boy who had been a nominee at this year’s ball, was having a tree house built in his garden to give him space and chance to play with his six siblings while he fought a seven year battle with cancer, so we gave him a donation to make his dream come true.

In August, Evie-Mae, a beautiful baby who suffered a brain injury, was in need of sensory toys to help her play and learn, so we gave a donation.

In September, Ebony, who was battling cancer was celebrating her birthday at home so Mickey and Minnie turned up with a birthday gift and balloons and tickets to see Circus Starr.

In Sepember, Emma (Vashti), a beautiful young woman battling cancer who had limited mobility was provided with an ‘independence trike’ as a wedding gift.

In October, Daniel, a young man who was fighting a brain tumour needed holiday insurance for a much needed break with his young family to which we contributed making this holiday happen.

In November, we arranged and paid for Boogie Storm to attend a surprise celebration for Kasabian who was now getting very poorly.

Joel, a little boy with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy was in need of a retreat room where he could be surrounded by sensory toys and Peppa Pig walls. We gave him the chance to relax with his family and twinkle those beautiful eyes.

Last week we purchased a large amount of Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in our community.

Pride of the Isle is so very grateful for the continued support from everyone. We strive to make a difference in people’s lives, young or old, no matter how big or small. At this time of year our thoughts turn to spending time with family, friends and being happy and healthy, sadly for some this is just a wish.

We hope to carry on making a difference in peoples’ lives and making wishes come true. So as we look towards the new year and our fourth ball it is our intention to grow and make a difference.

Paul Verrico has this to say about the work of Team Verrico.

Team Verrico is a volunteer charity with a mission to assist families living with cancer. Their mission statement is ‘More Tomorrows’ – whilst the trustees know that many of the cases that are referred will have an unwelcome final outcome, they earnestly believe that by enabling access to the leading oncologists and clinicians in the country they create treatment opportunities which allow experimental treatments to be harnessed to improve mortality consequences. The genesis of the charity, which arose following the tragic death of Isle mother Anna Verrico in 2013, led to additional goals – the most important being to fund niche research projects which could have a material effect on the effectiveness of drugs used to combat the rare cancer sub-types which respond less well to chemotherapy.

Looking back on 2016, the charity cites three key moments:

June – renewal of partnership with Scunthorpe Sainsbury’s – generating an average £10,000 in revenue and providing a massive boost to volunteer numbers;

September – partnership with rare cancer charity pseudomyxoma survivor increases the breadth of the Verrico service to those suffering a statistically insignificant cancer which is hard to treat. Counselling service starts taking referrals specifically from those affected; and

October – social media campaign to help Doncaster dad Jon Chapman – a man suffering from a very rare cancer – results in Jon being housed by a family in London whilst he undergoes radiotherapy treatment.

It has been a year of highs and lows – with additional firepower added to the team through a new head of counselling, Naomi Watkins; Claire Skeet as an event organiser and more appointments set to be made. It’s also a year in which some of the people that the charity funded succumbed to their illness.

So what for 2017? Charity Chair Paul Verrico is bullish: “The charity has an ambitious growth strategy for the new year. Our head of marketing, trustee Amelia Redding, has been working on the development of a new website which will go live in spring. That site will serve as a fulcrum to our efforts and will enable patients and friends to download forms immediately, which should remove one of the barriers to access. We intend to pursue more corporate organisations for funding and we will reinvigorate efforts to engage with volunteers to help us move the agenda forward. On a personal level, now that my youngest has started school, I have some time on a Friday to develop these sort of relationships.

“Team Verrico’s head of research, trustee Nick Cranfield, is about to invite applications for funding for more small research projects in a spring round of applications and again, this is an exciting thought as we look to spend funds wisely to improve patient outcomes. I sincerely hope to report back next year that our turnover has broken the £100,000 mark and that we remain an entirely volunteer charity. In the meantime, we are looking for both a patron – a recognisable face of the charity to help get the message out – and more good natured folk to give their time and energy to help. Our slogan of NeverEVERGiveup could not be any more important than it is now.”