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'Beautiful eyes and a big smiley face' - Woman's life celebrated at second charity ball

PUBLISHED: 13:46 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 22 May 2019

The Littlelifts May Ball was dedicated to Charlotte Ireland, who died in March. Photo: Geraldine Scott

The Littlelifts May Ball was dedicated to Charlotte Ireland, who died in March. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

The immense impact of receiving a comfort box while undergoing breast cancer treatment was revealed as a homegrown charity celebrated the life of one of its volunteers.

The money raised from Littlelifts' May Ball will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine MagerThe money raised from Littlelifts' May Ball will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine Mager

Littlelifts was started by Oa Hackett, from Bawburgh, in 2017 after she battled breast cancer and was buoyed by receiving gift packages from friends.

What started as a small enterprise has now expanded to five hospitals, where women receive a bespoke box full with everything from plant seeds to a book of crosswords.

And at the charity's second fundraising ball last week, one of those touched by the gift was remembered.

Charlotte Ireland, from Norwich, died in March, and Mrs Hackett told guests how she had been one of the first to receive a Littlelifts box.

Kay Phoenix and Oa Hackett organised the Littlelifts' May Ball, The money raised will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine MagerKay Phoenix and Oa Hackett organised the Littlelifts' May Ball, The money raised will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine Mager

She said: "She got in touch to tell us the impact the box had on her at the time, and that she used some of the items with her daughter Hannah."

Mrs Ireland, who was described as having "beautiful eyes and a big smiley face" became heavily involved in the charity, volunteering to pack boxes and share her experience. Mrs Hackett said: "Charlotte was really looking forward to this evening and we would often talk about what dress she was going to wear.

"But earlier this year in March we all had to say goodbye to Charlotte because sadly her breast cancer returned. So we are using this evening to dedicate the night to her."

Almost exactly a year to the day from when she found a lump in her breast Kim Smith, 51, from Horning told her story.

Kim Smith at the Littlelifts' May Ball. The money raised will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine MagerKim Smith at the Littlelifts' May Ball. The money raised will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine Mager

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Speaking at the ball Mrs Smith, who received a Littlelifts box in June 2018, she said: "Those of you among us who have gone through the same, or even the loved ones among us that have all had to watch feeling helpless, feeling sadness, even lost someone. Nothing prepares us for the complete turmoil that we and our loved ones are put through.

"For me personally I had no idea what to prepare for.

"I lost my mum to pancreatic cancer in 2017, so just the word cancer meant awful things to me. So here I was, I had my first round of chemotherapy, my hair was falling out, still feeling a little perplexed by everything that was going on around me."

Volunteers at the Littlelifts' May Ball, The money raised will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine MagerVolunteers at the Littlelifts' May Ball, The money raised will provide support to women who face chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer across Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Katherine Mager

Mrs Smith received a Littlelifts box at an appointment with Dr Susanna Alexander at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

"When I opened the box I felt loved," she said.

"I felt understood. I felt an enormous burst of happiness at a time of nothing but worry and fear.

"I was at my lowest and this box gave me more than a little lift. It gave me comfort on a journey of chemotherapy, it was thoughtfully packed and with items that would help me, just little old me."

Mrs Hackett said more than 420 boxes had now been handed out, and with a new partnership with West Suffolk Hospital this was expected to soon increase to more than 1,000.

The charity was also going to expand to offer the boxes to women with secondary breast cancer too.

The ball, held at Dunston Hall, raised £15,400 which Mrs Hackett said would go a long way to provide boxes to women in Norfolk and Suffolk.

She said: "Our second May Ball was a huge success and would not have been possible without the kind support from so many individuals and businesses. A special thank you goes to Sinclair International for generously sponsoring the evening. Our littlelifts boxes provide practical support and offer a much needed boost a what can often be a very difficult time."

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