Heaven and Hell: Oa Hackett

Oa and Greg Hackett Picture: Mark Ashby

Oa and Greg Hackett Picture: Mark Ashby - Credit: Archant

littlelifts Founder, Oa Hackett, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, aged 28. Her experience of chemotherapy treatment is what inspired her to set up littlelifts, a charity that provides littlelifts boxes to women undergoing treatment for breast cancer at hospitals in Norfolk and Suffolk. Here Oa speaks to Gina Long.

Oa Hackett at a littlelifts event Picture: Mark Ashby

Oa Hackett at a littlelifts event Picture: Mark Ashby - Credit: Archant

What’s the impact of COVID-19 on your charity and how are you adapting?

We’ve had to close our office and packing room for the time being. Luckily, we had enough time to make some essential preparations. All our hospital partnerships have enough littlelifts boxes boxed for the next couple of months, because of course, many women will continue to receive treatment during these tough times.

Our two-woman team, supported by a board of fantastic trustees, are still working from home, behind the scenes. Sadly we’ve had to cancel all our fundraising events for the next four months, which will have an impact on our income but we are exploring ways of how we can get our amazing littlelifts community involved ‘virtually’. We’ve also had to make the decision to close our online shop, which means we are unable to get our boxes out to women in other parts of the country.

What help and advice can littlelifts offer our readers during COVID-19 times?

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Eat well and keep hydrated, take time to make a nice meal and enjoy a cuppa of tea watching the birds and nature if you can. Look after your environment, keep it clean and tidy. Take time to read, do crosswords, your hobbies, find a way to do the things you love. Fresh air, whether it’s a walk, run, sitting in your garden or by an open window. Just remember to to adhere to current guidelines. Stay in touch with people who make you smile via phone and video calls. Try and create a routine and plan what works best for you. Keep an eye on our social media channels and website for tips, advice and links to support available during these tough times.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

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I was born in Norfolk and spent most of my childhood on our sandy beaches in North Norfolk or eating chips on Cromer Pier. In 2009, when I returned from university, I met my husband Greg and we’ve been together in Norfolk ever since!

What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?

The beaches, wildlife and amazing community of local businesses.

What is your East Anglian Hell i.e. what you hate most about living here?

Wells-next-the-Sea beach car park in the summer.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

Horsey Windpump. Mum and I would take a walk most weeks during my cancer treatment and stop here for a cuppa and a slice of cake! Plus down the road at Horsey you’ll find loads of seals.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Gosh there’s so much that happens every year but I do love the Norfolk and Norwich Festival because it offers so much variety.

What’s your specialist Mastermind subject?

I absolutely love whales, especially orcas!

What is always in your fridge?

Dark chocolate, feta, chillies.What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Never be afraid to try something new. Be kind. Laugh.

What’s your favourite film?

The French film The Untouchables is brilliant, a feel-good true-life story with a great soundtrack.

What was your first job?

A cleaner at a hotel in Norwich, earning £4.25 per hour, I was 16.

What is your most treasured possession?

My dog, Norma. We got her after I finished my cancer treatment and she’s basically the best dog ever! She really helped me through my recovery.

Who do you admire most?

I admire so many: my husband, my mum, my sisters, my grandparents, all my friends, especially my sleep deprived ones, anyone who runs a business or sets up a charity like Kris Kullenger from Coppafeel.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Booja Booja chocolate or a cheese board.

What do you like about yourself most?

I always try to look at the positive side of things and take an optimistic approach to new challenges.

What’s your worst character trait?

I can get obsessive with cleaning! (see first-ever job).

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

We went to Kefalonia for my sister’s 30th a few years ago and fell in love with the island, I’ve made it my mission to go every year until I can’t.

Best day of your life?

Marrying Greg with all of my family and friends around us, it was a three-day affair and the celebrations included pizza and prosecco. Afterall, Greg and I met in a pizza restaurant 11 years ago!

The day littlelifts was granted a charity. I was on a train travelling to Leicester for work and the entire carriage joined in our celebrations.

The day Greg and I kayaked with orcas in the wild whilst on honeymoon in Canada, it was awe inspiring.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

My favourite meal of the day. Earl Grey tea with scrambled egg and avocado on toast followed by yoghurt, fruit and granola.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Has to be a nice cold glass of Riesling.

What’s your hidden talent?

Singing the lyrics to Petula Clark, Down Town, in a really low voice. Something I do with my uni gals often wearing pink wigs.

What’s your earliest memory?

Being with my little sister doing an Easter egg hunt in the woods by our house.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I hate going in lifts and I really do not like snakes or coriander!

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

“You’ve got breast cancer.”

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

I am lucky to live by a river just outside Norwich. In the summer we go paddle boarding most days. I love the open fields and tranquillity of it all. Norwich is only a few miles away, the beaches a short drive and I am thankful to have my family and friends close by.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

It’s an uncertain time for a lot of us at the moment and small charities like mine are working hard so that we can continue to supporting those who need us. What is certain is that breast cancer is still happening.

If anyone feels able to support us during covid-19, there are a variety of ways you can help by making a donation, planning your own at-home fundraising event, joining a virtual event or simply telling someone else about our work.

Remember, no matter your age or gender please self-check! Also We have launched our first ever virtual sports day taking place on Sunday in response to the 2.6 challenge. Get involved here where you can help raise funds.

Are you doing something special during Covid-19 times? Please do email me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1 Instagram: ginalongmbe

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