A heartbroken mother who lost her daughter to an aggressive cancer has toasted a gala event to raise money for a children’s hospice.
Rose Hamlet, 37, whose eldest daughter Rebekah died when she was six-years-old, mingled at the stylish occasion at Debenhams at Eagles Meadow shopping centre, Wrexham, in aid of Hope House Children’s Hospices.
They have two hospices, Hope House near Oswestry and Tŷ Gobaith in the Conwy Valley.
The charity supports hundreds of families from across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire, providing specialist nursing care and support to life-limited children, young people and young adults.
The event included cosmetics demonstrations, food, drinks, a raffle, and a lucky dip.
Mother-of-four Rose has nothing but praise for Hope House after the hospice helped her through the toughest of times.
It provided respite care at a time when she had two other children to look after, including Rebekah’s twin sister Lauren, and was heavily pregnant. She was a single mum at the time.
Rose, who works as a housekeeper at a hotel in Wrexham, said: “When Rebekah was ill we had our decorations up on November the 1st. Christmas is even more important when your child is terminally ill.
“We went to the shop and she got every single decoration she could find. I don’t know how the Christmas tree was still standing after we put all of the decorations on it!
“It’s a great event and it looks like a lot of work has gone into it. It’s really busy here.
Cosmetics supervisor Owen Ward helped organise the event.
He said: “This is to benefit Hope House, which is important, especially around Christmas. There’s no better charity to give to I think. Christmas is even more important to children who are terminally ill. It’s heart-breaking when you think about it.
“It’s a great turn out and it looks like everyone is enjoying themselves.”
Little Rebekah had neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects children, mostly under the age of five. Around 90 children in the UK are diagnosed with it each year.
Rebekah who was diagnosed when she was four-years-old, underwent brain surgery, radio therapy and chemotherapy.
Rose said: “The chemotherapy made her ill. In the end I just had to let go because the cancer kept coming back.
“She had a brain tumour and then had secondary tumours across the top of her head and down her spine. She was always out of breath and lost the ability to walk so would shuffle across the floor.
“It was tough, and it was especially hard on Lauren. It was difficult for my son Nathan to understand at the time and he kept asking when are we going to get a new Rebekah.
“Rebekah and Lauren had to have name badges when they went to school because they looked so similar. Their personalities were completely different though. Rebekah was just so girly and Lauren was more tomboyish.
“I always think of Rebekah when Lauren has her birthday. It’s nice in a way, but in another way it’s cruel.”
Rose added: “The staff and the volunteers at Hope House were fantastic. Once they brought in kittens for Rebekah to play with which she really enjoyed.
“They would look after her. Sometimes for a week, sometimes for a few days, and it mean I could spend some time with the other kids.
“They offer counselling as well. They don’t just give you practical support, they give you emotional support as well.
“I’m invited to go back to Hope House very single year for a memorial service.
“Hope House relies on the public for support. Without that it wouldn’t exist.
“I want people to know that there is help out there for them if they need it and I want to make sure that other people can get the same support that I got.
“Hope House is a great cause. Rose told me it made such a difference to her at an incredibly tough time in her life and that she’s really indebted to them because it gave her time to devote to her other children.”
Hope House needs to raise £4 million a year to maintain their vital services for children with life-limiting conditions.
Area fundraiser for Hope House Hannah Penney said: “I think this is a lovely event, and it’s nice to have the support of a business in the local community.
Nicky Evans, 41, a fulltime mum from Oswestry, said: “I’m always coming in and out of Debenhams, and one of the girls behind the counter told me about this. It’s for such a good cause. We’ve brought the whole family. The Christmas decorations are really nice.”
Sophie Bhalla, 21, from Wrexham, who is studying law at Bangor University, said: “We came for the makeup demonstrations, and it’s for a good cause. It’s nice to have something like this happening in Wrexham.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley added: “Hope House and Tŷ Gobaith do a truly wonderful job and they deserve all the support that they get. Raising the £4 million they need every year is a big mountain to climb and I’m delighted that Debenhams have done their bit to help.”