Primary school girls become fundraising stars after mum's heartbreaking diagnosis
PUBLISHED: 07:31 24 July 2019
A group of school girls have turned the heartbreaking news of a mother's cancer diagnosis into an incredible fundraising drive.
Natasha Moreno-Roberts, 40, lives in Ipswich with her two young daughters, nine-year-old Layla and seven-year-old Emilia.
She had coped with daily pain for weeks, managing it just with paracetamol and going to and from to the GP and A&E to get a diagnosis. She finally saw a specialist in May, and was left stunned by her diagnosis.
Mrs Moreno-Roberts said: "I'd been in pain since March but I thought I was just too busy, that it was down to ferrying the kids about.
"I couldn't believe it was stage four colon cancer.
"Even the oncologist told me I was bloody young to get this."
The cancer had spread to her liver and spine, forcing doctors to start Mrs Moreno-Roberts' treatment as soon as possible.
She was worried about how her young children would handle the news - but was blown away by their maturity.
"When I got home I, together with the girls' father and extended family sat down and gave them the details of my illness, we wanted them to have all the facts they could.
"I told them I just wanted to focus on being their mum.
"At this point I was already going through radiotherapy, it was horrible, but the girls were fantastic. They went to school, got their friends together and from small acorns grew a great oak tree."
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Layla and her four friends Olivia, Ruby, Molly and Yasmin - known as the 'fundraising five' - spent weeks of lunchtimes at Sidegate Primary School and their evenings planning what they could do to support people living with cancer, deciding to donate any of the money they raised to Macmillan Cancer Support and St Elizabeth's Hospice.
With help from all their parents, the girls' younger siblings Emilia, Evie and Matilda, and teacher Jane Ryder - a non-uniform day and raffle came together for the end of term and over £1,000 was raised.
So impressed by their hard work, Layla and Emilia's father Cleiver put a Justgiving page online so people could support the girls - and his £700 target was smashed when another £3,500 was donated by the public.
Mrs Ryder said: "The girls have done an amazing job. It's this kind of initiative we like to encourage and the money they raised is just incredible."
Layla said: "We told five friends and we all thought of an idea, so we came up with a raffle at school.
"We told our mums and dads and they started looking for prizes and we had meals donated and go-karting and a £50 note. Someone is going to get to be the headteacher for the day.
"On our uniform day everyone bought a pound in and it took us all morning to count and it was over £900."
Hospice community fundraiser, Jen Townsend said: "We're really delighted that the children have decided to take such positive action with their fundraising, in support of Ms Moreno-Roberts and the hospice.
"The school has also been involved in the hospice art trail, Elmer's Big Parade, having decorated two elephant sculptures.
"It's really encouraging to see their engagement with the work of the hospice and also highlights the importance of supporting the local community.
"Fundraising is a great way for the children to work together and use their creative skills.
"The hospice is very grateful to the school and the 'fundraising five and friends' for all their support, and we look forward to supporting with them with their future efforts."