Sisters who organised an Ilkley fundraising ball are to be honoured – Wharfedale Observer

THREE sisters who organised a fundraising ball in Ilkley in aid of Anthony Nolan are set to be honoured by the charity next month.

Emma Smith, and her sisters Hannah and Charlie call themselves the Hope Runners and have been shortlisted for blood cancer charitys group fundraiser of the year award.

Back for its eighth year, the award ceremony will recognise the achievements of the volunteers, fundraisers, clinical supporters and donors who help the pioneering blood cancer charity save lives. It usually takes place at the Tower of London, but this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be a digital celebration with invited supporters announcing winners in specially pre-recorded films.

Emma, 30, of Skipton, lost her husband Scott to Hodgkins Lymphoma in August 2019. Following his death, she teamed up with Hannah and Charlie to run last years virtual Virgin Money London Marathon for Anthony Nolan and have so far raised more than 20,000 - even though due to injury and the coronavirus only one of them was able to take part on the day.

Scott Smith, a 29-year-old firefighter, from Colne, discovered a lump on his neck which his GP originally thought was nothing serious, however he was later diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

Emma said: We were told that if you get cancer, this is the one you want to get as its so curable and easy to treat. Six months of chemotherapy and then you should be fine. Because of this we really thought everything was going to be okay, but things didnt work out that way at all.

A few days after receiving his diagnosis, Scott started chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, he did not respond to treatment like doctors had hoped, and so the possibility of a stem cell transplant was mentioned. Despite numerous knock backs Scott approached the road ahead with positivity, bravery and dignity, never losing his infectious smile, says Emma.

He developed a hole between his oesophagus and bronchial, which was caused by the cancer and worsened by the radiotherapy which resulted in fluid directly entering his lungs and he developed pneumonia several times.

At this point we were told that we had two options, stop the radiotherapy and give Scott end of life care or they could attempt to reconstruct Scotts airways, but we were told that he could be in hospital for up to two years and chances are he wont survive. So, they gave us two choices but really there was only one, said Emma.

In April last year, Scott stopped all treatment and Emma stopped work to care for him. He sadly died four months later, aged 30.

The sisters call themselves the Hope Runners because they aim to give hope to people like Scott who died before he was able to have a stem cell transplant.

After being re-scheduled twice, last years London Marathon went ahead virtually, with participants planning their own 26 mile route.

Emma said: Running has really helped me cope since Scotts death. Weve set ourselves a big goal for fundraising and training, to give us something amazing and positive to focus on in what we know will be the hardest year. Weve seen each other through the darkest of times so I that if we can get through that together, we could get through a marathon.

Having to train for the marathon twice for in one year was really hard. On the day it was postponed in March I had just done the worst 16 mile training run and I said to my sisters this chuffing marathon better not be cancelled!

The marathon was postponed to October, so I continued to do six and eight mile runs throughout lockdown, and then started training for the marathon again in June, it was hard to motivate ourselves when we knew it might be cancelled or postponed again.

Devastatingly, Emma was unable to run the virtual marathon due to an injury and Hannah had to self-isolate due to coronavirus but Charlie was still able to complete, and despite everything, the trio have raised more than 20,000 for Anthony Nolan and now plan to run the London Marathon in 2023.

As part of their fundraising efforts, they also organised the Hope Ball, which took place at The Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley, in February last year and which was attended by around 250 people.

Emma said: We feel so very proud to have been nominated for an Anthony Nolan Supporter Award- as a family we have been through some very darks times and so it means all the more to us to have something positive come from it all.

Whether we win the award or not, it is the best feeling to know that the funds and awareness we have raised will give so many families the happy ever after that they deserve.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: It is remarkable to see how many people support our work to find a match for those in need of a stem cell transplant. Without them, none of our life-saving work would be possible.

The Hope Runners have shown tremendous commitment to Anthony Nolan by going above and beyond in their fundraising efforts, despite facing many hurdles on their journey.

All winners will be revealed at 7pm on Thursday, February 11 at http://www.anthonynolan.org/awards

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Sisters who organised an Ilkley fundraising ball are to be honoured - Wharfedale Observer

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