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Press Ball update/ Gallery: Brave Kerry Thorpe sheds tears of joy at sparkling fundraiser

PUBLISHED: 17:58 18 June 2011

Kerry Thorpe with her fiance Josh Nelli

Kerry Thorpe with her fiance Josh Nelli

Archant

IPSWICH: She may have felt humbled, but everyone else saw Kerry Thorpe as an inspiration when the 20-year-old graced the Press Ball as guest of honour.

For it was her poignant and evocative life story which became the centrepiece of last night’s glamourous event – moving many in the audience to tears.

Kerry, who has cystic fibrosis, is in a race against time to find a new pair of lungs and faces the harrowing possibility that she may only have months to live unless her search is successful.

She is currently battling to put on weight to enable her to join the transplant register. At her lowest ebb, she weighed just 5st.

It was doubtful whether she would be well enough to feature at the Corn Exchange yesterday, but she delighted everyone when she arrived in a beautiful red dress, alongside her fiance Josh Nelli.

When Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover introduced her to the crowd, she was greeted with rapturous applause.

Many were overcome with emotion when images of The Evening Star’s coverage of Kerry’s plight were shown on a big screen.

Kerry herself wept as she struggled to take in the unsurpassed generosity shown by attendees.

Late last night, more than £16,000 had been raised – some of which will go to one of the night’s chosen charities, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which has supported Kerry throughout her life.

Kerry, of Dover Road, Ipswich, said: “Being here while so much money is being raised for a charity which helps me is amazing. It makes me so happy.

“I feel completely humbled that people see me as an inspiration. I see myself as just a normal person. It is things like this that keep me going.

“The support I had after I appeared in the Evening Star has meant the world to me. I’m so pleased the Evening Star has helped me to raise awareness of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

“I have to remain strong and positive otherwise I would just die.”

There was also a touching moment when an Ipswich Hospital teacher, who helped Kerry through her GCSEs during her many stays at the Heath Road site, handed her a new TV.

Ruth Pickover won the prize in a game of ‘Heads and Tails’ during the black-tie extravaganza.

Mrs Pickover said: “Kerry is an absolutely amazing girl and we are delighted she was able to make it tonight.

“I have fond memories of Kerry when she was at Ipswich Hospital. She was a lovely girl to be around and she always had a smile on her face.”

The night also featured music from Queen tribute act Queen B, fresh from their appearance on the BBC’s The One Show.

Star editor Mr Pickover said: “This has been a spectacular evening for the Cystic Fibrosis 
Trust and I am delighted with the support shown from our generous guests.

“People like Kerry are an inspiration. Her touching story shows how vitally important it is for us all to continue supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

“On behalf of the whole Evening Star team, I would like to thank every organisation, every company, every individual that has given up time, offered auction and raffle prizes, and provided sponsorship
and services to make this year’s Press Ball such a resounding success.”

Further information can be found about Cystic Fibrosis at www.cftrust.org.uk. Alternatively, contact the Cystic Fibrosis Helpline 0845 859 1000.

– See Monday’s Evening Star for the fundraising grand total, more pictures and further details from the glittering evening.

– Have you been helped by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN, or alternatively you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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