Family of toddler with cancer ‘taken aback’ as Ipswich pub opens charity shop in support
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
The Kingfisher pub in Chantry has opened a charity shop to help raise more than £230,000 for life-saving treatment for Ipswich toddler Ireland Banham, who has a rare form of cancer.
The one-year-old was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in July last year, and now her family and friends are helping in a bid to send her to New York - where vaccines could prevent her from relapsing once she is in remission.
The brave toddler has remained bubbly throughout her gruelling journey, dancing and singing along to rapper Stormzy, while being overwhelmed with Christmas cards from the community.
So far they have raised more than £34,000 and now the Kingfisher pub has opened its very own charity shop called 'Ireland's Charity' - in a room once home to its coffee shop.
Speaking of the gesture, Ireland's grandmother Christine Adams says the whole family was "taken aback" by the news.
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"Penny and her mum's support has been amazing," said Christine. "Penny hadn't even met Ireland when she told us she was going to open the charity shop at the pub, she really is fantastic and so willing to help us.
"When Penny met Ireland a few weeks ago she had tears in her eyes and you could see how much this meant to her to be able to help."
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Pub landlord, Penny Youngs-Debnam, says Ireland's story is "heartbreaking" and she deserves the chance to live her life.
She said: "A member of the bar team is friends with Chloe, Ireland's mum, and she told me she needed to raise money for treatment in America.
"We said we would help in whatever way we could and decided to turn our spare room at the front of the pub into a charity shop."
Today the charity shop opened its doors officially, with the help of Ipswich MP Tom Hunt and other members of the community.
More than £140 was raised at the opening which will go towards Ireland's life-saving treatment.
Penny, 39, who has a granddaughter just a few months older than Ireland, says she will do whatever she can to help.
"Money shouldn't need to be raised," said Penny. "This is a child's life at the end of the day, but we will do whatever we can to help get Ireland the treatment she needs."
The Chantry pub has already helped raise more than £3,000 for the cause, including through head shaves with Ipswich Against Gangs, while a horse racing night, 80s disco and car wash event are also planned in the coming months.
Last year, the mother of Sunderland AFC fan Bradley Lowery - who made headlines for his friendship with former England striker Jermain Defoe before his death from neuroblastoma in 2017 - visited Ireland and her mum Chloe as they launched the fundraising campaign.
More: 'Cheeky, sassy' toddler's cancer fight backed by Bradley Lowery's mumAt the time, Mrs Lowery said: "Ireland is absolutely beautiful and every child, no matter what age, whatever the illness, deserves the chance to live and so if we can enable that and support the families in any way possible then we will."
Ireland's charity shop at the pub in Hawthorn Drive will be open at least six days a week and will sell a bit of everything, Mrs Youngs-Debnam confirmed.