Shona's memory already helping others

A CHARITABLE foundation set up in memory of Ipswich cancer sufferer Shona Gill is today helping sick children and their families.Shona's Smile Foundation has now been given charity status and is already granting the wishes of sick youngsters.

A CHARITABLE foundation set up in memory of Ipswich cancer sufferer Shona Gill is today helping sick children and their families.

Shona's Smile Foundation has now been given charity status and is already granting the wishes of sick youngsters.

Even before the official status had been confirmed, money from the foundation had been used to help an Ipswich youngster battling leukaemia.

Ryan Balls, 11, of Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich visited Disneyland Paris last month with his mum, dad and two sisters.

The holiday was largely funded by the family but a £500 donation from the foundation allowed them to have an even more enjoyable break.

Shona's Smile Foundation was set up in memory of ten-year-old Shona, of Laurelhayes, Ipswich, who died in December following a brave fight with cancer.

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An appeal set up to raise cash for her treatment continued in her memory and is now being used to help other children and to research Shona's cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma.

Tracy Gill, Shona's mum, said: "We are going to allocate £500 to each child towards a wish. It won't cover a whole holiday but if we give small amounts to start with we can help more children.

"We are aiming to help ten children in the first year.

"To help them in a small way can be a big help to them as it was to us."

Choosing Ryan as the first youngster to benefit from the appeal was not a difficult decision for the Gill family.

Since the youngster was diagnosed with leukaemia in November 2003 he has undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

While at Addenbrooke's Hospital he became close to Shona and the two always managed to make each other laugh.

Mrs Gill, 39, added: "It is fitting really because Ryan is a little boy who spent a significant amount of his time with Shona in hospital.

"When she was in isolation with shingles just before her birthday he had to stay away.

"Because he knew he wasn't allowed past the door he decided to get a hospital sheet and spread it under the door and make badges with her. She sat on one side of the door and he sat on the other.

"Shona's room was next to the garden at Addenbrooke's and he would go round to the outside and peer through the window and make Wallace and Gromit faces for her and made her laugh.

"He had us all in stitches and is just such a character.

"He is just like Shona – he makes the most of his life and he has got so many qualities that she had. I think children just get on with it."

Ryan has two of Shona's dolls to remember her by and now the memory of his four-day holiday to Paris.

His mum, Yvonne Balls, 41, said: "We stayed in a lovely hotel and went round the park.

"Ryan enjoyed it and it was the first time he had been. He loved all the fast rides and is a very daring little boy.

"I think the charity is very good. I would like to say thank you to Tracy as we really appreciated it and without her donation it might not have been possible."

Ryan has also been helping Mrs Gill come up with ideas for the launch of the charity at Halifax School on July 17.

The fun day at the school will take place from noon to 5pm and will include a balloon release, a host of stalls and possibly a bouncy castle.

It is hoped people will make donations to release a balloon with a message attached in memory of a loved one.

Lilac wristbands and new Shona's Smile pin badges are now on sale for a minimum donation of £1 plus 50p postage and packaging.

The pin badges come in lilac, yellow, red and blue and feature a smiley face and the words Shona's Smile.

Anyone wishing to be involved with the fun day or who wants to purchase a pin badge or wristband should contact the Gills at z2b194@hotmail.com.

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