Devoted son Phillip Roberts has dedicated himself to raising money for a hospice after his mum from cancer just a few weeks after it was diagnosed.
Colleagues at the Debenhams store at Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham have rallied round after Phillip’s mum, Belinda Roberts, from Coedpoeth, passed away last September at the age of 49.
Phillip now has a purple tint in his hair just like his mum as a tribute to her memory.
The family are also grieving the loss of Mrs Roberts’s sister, Denise Lancaster, who also spent her days at the Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham just a few months before.
Phillip, 27, and the rest of the family have raised more than £2,500 for the hospice and he’s now in training for the Chester Half Marathon so he can top it up again.
Also involved in the fund-raising are his brother, Stuart, his sister, Amy, and his dad, Stephen, along with Phillip’s partner, Joshua Hughes.
According to Phillip, the support of his colleagues at Debenhams, where he works in the menswear department, has been invaluable.
Store bosses raffle prize of a hamper of beauty products for one of the fund-raising events.
Phillip said: “It was a massive shock losing mum so quickly. She was diagnosed on September 9 and on September 24. It was a really aggressive form of cancer.
“As a family we decided to honour mum’s memory by fundraising for Nightingale House Hospice.
“We ran a quiz night at the Golden Lion in Coedpoeth and raised more than £1,000 which was amazing. Debenhams donated a fantastic hamper full of beauty products to help the raffle which was superb.
“I know they get a lot of requests and as a company they have three charities they support anyway. I didn’t expect the store to be able to help but the hamper was donation was amazing and really boosted the raffle.
“We are planning another fundraising quiz night at the Golden Lion and I’m now training ahead of the Chester half-marathon in May which I’m going to run and collect sponsor money.
“So far we have raised £2,540 which includes donations taken at mum’s funeral. Hopefully I can add at least £500 to the total through the half-marathon.”
An emotional Phillip revealed that another of his aunties had also died of cancer – which meant that three out of five sisters had been struck down by the disease.
He said: “We lost my first aunt, Michelle, to lung cancer 13 years ago. She was 41. Then my second aunt, Denise Lancaster, who was 59, died of lung cancer in April just months before we lost mum.
“We didn’t even know what type of cancer it was with mum, it was that quick. She didn’t have time to try chemo or anything really.
“She did have an operation to remove part of her pancreas in August before she was diagnosed with cancer and that meant she was too weak for chemo anyway.
“It was a terrible shock for the whole family as we were still grieving for Denise. Mum had planned to fundraise for Nightingale House in memory of Denise so, as a family; we took up the challenge in memory of them both really.”
He added: “Mum was so fun-loving and was always up for a laugh. She was just everyone’s friend. She was a huge rugby fan and a massive Wales supporter.
“It’s going to be strange not having here for the Six Nations this year, cheering Wales on like she always did.
“And we have just had the first Christmas without her which was very difficult and, in February, it will be the first time she won’t be there to help me celebrate my birthday. That will be hard.”
Phillip, who has worked at the Debenhams store since it opened in 2008, is reminded of his mum every time he looks in a mirror.
He said: “Mum always had her hair dyed. She chose a number of different colours but purple was always a real favourite. I decided to have my hair purple tinted so I carry her with me every day.
“I also carry her eternity ring on as chain around my neck. Dad has her wedding ring and my sister her engagement ring. It just gives me a bit of comfort and it makes me feel she is always there with me, by my side.”
Debenhams menswear manager Chris Gilston says staff of the department store wanted to support Phillip after the sudden and tragic death of his mum.
He said: “All the staff wanted to help and bought raffle tickets. As a store we put together a big hamper of beauty products.
“Phillip has been with us a long time and is a well-respected member of staff so we wanted to help.
“We are delighted the fundraising for Nightingale House has been so successful and we wish Phillip good luck for the Chester half-marathon in May.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley.
He said: “To lose your mum so quickly to cancer so soon after she was diagnosed it terrible especially when her passing came so soon after he sister death in May.
“Nightingale House Hospice is a much-loved Wrexham charity and a place many people hold close to their hearts. I’m always pleased to hear of fundraising for Nightingale House involving Eagles Meadow stores and their staff.”
He added: “I know how many requests for help department stores such as Debenhams receive but I’m pleased they decided to support Phillip and his family’s efforts in memory of Belinda Roberts and her sister Denise.”
To donate to the Nightingale House fundraising page in memory of Belinda Roberts please visit www.mytribute.everydayhero.com/uk/steve-roberts-147-btinternet-com