Avril stubs out for a worthy cause

AFTER more than a quarter of a million ciggies, Avril Beale has finally stubbed out her habit - and raised £1,000 for a cancer charity.

AFTER more than a quarter of a million ciggies, Avril Beale has finally stubbed out her habit - and raised £1,000 for a cancer charity.

She waged bets with the members of the sports and social club where she works behind the bar over whether she could give up smoking, and was determined to win.

Now she says her health is better, her self-esteem has improved, and she is delighted to have helped others through her efforts.

She had smoked 20 a day since she was just 13.

Those cigarettes, if laid end to end, would have stretched from Felixstowe to Woodbridge, and at today's prices would have cost her £72,000.

“I have tried to give up before, but at the first sign of trouble I was back on the cigarettes again,” said Mrs Beale, 54, of High Road, Trimley St Mary.

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“This time though I was determined.

“I really wanted to do it and I am so proud that I have.”

She decided to give up last summer to coincide with the smoking ban in public places.

“I work behind the bar at the Trimley Sports and Social Club and I knew that I would have to go outside in future to smoke and when we were busy that could mean long periods when I wouldn't be able to,” she said.

“I told some of the members I was going to give up and they wouldn't believe it.

“One customer said they would give me £10 for charity if I was still not smoking by January 1 and I said I would give him £10 for a charity of his choice if I failed.

“I soon found many more people prepared to make the wager and I couldn't resist the bet. It then just took off from there.”

Thanks to Mrs Beale's efforts and the support of the club members, she has raised £1,000 for the Cancer Campaign in Suffolk towards the group's project for a mobile cancer information centre.

Her husband David, who gave up smoking a few years ago, is thrilled, as are her three grown-up daughters.

“Initially I didn't agree with the smoking ban but now I love it - it certainly helped me,” she said.

“I hate smoking now - they always say there is nothing worse than a reformed smoker. But my smoker's cough has gone, my self-esteem is better and I feel much happier and healthier.”

Have you given something up and helped a charity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

A filthy habit:

Cigarette smoke has been directly linked to an increased risk of many diseases including cancer, heart disease and even sexual impotence.

Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, raising blood pressure and increasing the strain on the heart.

Thirty per cent of all cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking.

Cigarettes are not just made of tar, tobacco and nicotine. More than 600 additives can legally be added to tobacco products.

These include coffee extract, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, menthol, oil from clove stems, caramel and chorophyll, the compound that gives plants their green colour.