A north Northumberland pub, whose fund-raising campaign gained poignancy when one of its own was diagnosed with cancer, raised nearly £14,000 for charity in 2015.
And while the community of the Village Inn in Longframlington can be very satisfied with that impressive total, there was even more good news as barmaid Becky Cole is now in full remission.
As reported by the Gazette in June last year, staff and customers at the pub held a series of fund-raising events and challenges to raise money for CLIC Sargent, which was supporting the 21-year-old through treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At that time, Becky had completed her sixth and final round of chemotherapy at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and had just had her Hickman line (a central venous catheter used for chemotherapy) removed.
In what was a strange coincidence, when she received her diagnosis in January and went to tell her boss, Terry Maughan, he told her they had just decided to support CLIC Sargent, which helps children and young people up to the age of 24 cope with cancer.
Team Becky at The Village Inn pledged to raise £10,000, but during a presentation at the pub on Tuesday night, it was revealed that the final amount raised was £13,942.30.
Dee Tyler, CLIC Sargent’s area fund-raising manager for the North East, Cumbria and Yorkshire, said: “You guys have been amazing.
“When I first met Terry and he said he wanted to raise £10,000, I thought ‘Come on, it’s a small pub in a village!’
“It’s an awful lot of money and I just want you to know how much it’s appreciated.”
She explained that the charity spends £3,750 on average on each family it works with, meaning the community in Longframlington has raised enough to support three-and-a-half families through their cancer ordeal.
And Becky is in no doubt as to how valuable the backing of the charity, the community and her employers (including David Carr at the village shop) has been in her battle.
She offered ‘a massive thank-you for everyone’s support’, adding: “I can’t believe how it’s gone, words can’t describe it.”
Becky said CLIC Sargent had been amazing, not just in helping her, but her family and partner too.
“I knew nothing of them until Terry picked the charity,” she said. “I rang them straight away and it all felt a little bit better when I knew there was that help out there.”
Reflecting on now being in full remission and feeling much better, Becky said: “I’m just glad to be back to normal.
“It hasn’t even felt like a bad experience because treatment is so good these days and because of the support I’ve had.
“It definitely hasn’t been a traumatic experience because the community spirit has shown the brighter side of things.”
Becky is now looking forward to her 22nd birthday at the end of next month. “I’m going to have a big celebration because last year I was having chemo for my 21st,” she said.
The Village Inn has selected Cancer Research UK as its 2016 charity and Becky is keen to continue raising money.
She admitted that previously a cancer charity wouldn’t have been her first choice, but her experience has ‘definitely opened her eyes’. “Now it’s Cancer Research and CLIC Sargent all the way.”