Laura was just 26 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January 2006. Following radiotherapy and chemotherapy, she was placed in remission in the August – but in a cruel twist of fate, Carrie’s husband Neil was told he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just a few months later.
“It felt like cancer was following us around,” said Laura, now 31, who lives in Sawbridgeworth. “Carrie and Neil had supported me throughout my illness then it was time for me to be there for them - it was a horrible period in our lives.”
Carrie, also from Sawbridgeworth, added: "I couldn't fight the cancer for Neil or Laura – all I could do was trust the doctors and remain positive for them. Both times, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to give something back when they were better. I wanted other people to benefit from the support and treatment that Neil and Laura were lucky enough to receive."
With Neil now also in remisson, Laura and legal PA Carrie decided they would host a Great British Ball at Down Hall to raise money for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity, which has a support centre at the Rivers Hospital in Sawbridgeworth along with two in Chelmsford. “We were keen to support a charity which helps people local to our area, so Helen Rollason was perfect,” said Carrie.
Meanwhile, choosing the ball’s venue was an easy choice for Laura. “My role at Down Hall was the first job I had after I went into remission, so it really signalled a fresh start for me,” she explained. “The team here have been so understanding when I’ve had to go for my hospital check-ups, and they have fully supported my plans for the charity event.”
The Great British Ball, to take place on March 4, will feature music from tribute act The Fab Beatles along with a drinks reception, four-course meal, auction and raffle. Auction prizes already secured include tickets to Glorious Goodwood, golf at Stoke Park and Arsenal FC tickets.
Down Hall Manager Chris Falcus said: “The ball promises to be a wonderful evening. It’s for an excellent cause so we hope it will be well supported by the community.”
Down Hall Country House Hotel, which is under the management of then hospitality, is set in 110 acres of woodland, parkland and landscaped gardens. Situated 15 minutes from Stansted and 30 minutes from central London, it has 99 bedrooms as well as facilities for business conferences and weddings.
Laura and Carrie, whose plans have been helped by friends Sarah Jackson, Kevin Needham, Katie Talbot and Vini Watson, would like to hear from those who may be able to donate more auction and raffle prizes.
If you can help with raffle or auction prizes, call Laura on 07960 410195 or email email@example.com.
Tickets, which cost £75 each or £700 for a table of ten, are due to go on sale on November 5 via www.greatbritishball.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
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