The legacy of a former Chester Hammond School pupil whose dying wish was to set up a charity to help sick children will be honoured at a special fundraising ball at Chester Racecourse next month.
Nicola Riley was just five days short of her 15th birthday when she died following a courageous battle with a brain tumour in April 2005.
Despite the lengthy treatment she endured, Nicola, of Gresford, approached her illness with bravery and remained in high spirits throughout.
In 2004 she went to Florida to swim with dolphins and while she was there, she told her parents that she was concerned some of the other sick children she had met at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital wouldn’t get to experience treats like she was able to.
She vowed that when she was older she would set up a charity that would help those children whose parents couldn’t afford to give them a special treat, but as fate would have it, she passed away the following year.
But Nicola had left specific written instructions to her parents Debbie and Steve, asking them to start the charity on her behalf using her savings and in 2006 the official Nicola’s Fund was born.
A decade on, it has raised more than £510,000 and helped hundreds of families to experience special treats to make their pain a little bit more manageable in very difficult times.
And 10 years of steadfast fundraising will be celebrated on Saturday, March 5 with a special black tie Rydell High themed charity ball at Chester Racecourse which will feature an auction and raffle prizes to raise money for Nicola’s Fund.
Debbie told The Chronicle: “The charity was all Nicola’s idea, it is all down to her wishes before she died. It’s run entirely voluntarily, nobody gets paid, we just rely on fundraising events like sponsored bike rides, walks and dinner dances - as well as people’s kind generosity.
“We’ve had some staunch supporters over the years, including from local companies like Grosvenor Pulford and Marks & Spencer and people who knew her. The past decade has been a mix of emotion, challenges and achievements - we’ve been able to send children and their families on all expenses paid trips to places like Center Parcs and managed to buy a special caravan at Blackrock Sands where families can escape to. It is a fitting tribute to Nicola’s life,” added Debbie.
“I think Nicola would be quite surprised and humble to hear how well the charity’s done - I don’t think she’d believe people would remember her 10 years on! But she’d be very proud of how her idea has helped so many, it’s a wonderful legacy.”
Tickets for the charity ball on March 5 are available by contacting the Nicola’s Fund website www.nicolasfund.co.uk