A special Christmas festival in Chester will raise money for two charities which hold a poignant significance for its organiser.
Nicola James wanted to raise awareness and funds for both the Motor Neurone Disease Association as well as Brain Tumour Research, after seeing two close family members affected by the diseases, so she enlisted the help of friends to organise an unforgettable occasion.
Flair Fest, which will take place at Upton-by-Chester Royal British Legion on November 18, is a family-friendly Christmas fair featuring a pub quiz, raffle, Santa’s Grotto and activities for kids, as well as the chance to win some incredible prizes, including a week’s hotel stay in Greece.
Nicola hopes that the grand prizes on offer will help raise lots of cash for both charities, which receive little funding from the government.
“We came up with ‘Flair’ Fest because we want to help raise funds in order to help the charities to do research to be able to ‘give people their flair back’ after going through an illness or seeing or losing someone they love go through an illness,” said Nicola. “We’d like to raise at least a few thousand pounds and who knows if it goes well, we could even turn it into a regular thing.”
It was back in spring 2015 that Nicola’s uncle Jonathan D’Arcy was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, something she says progressed ‘very quickly’. Since then his condition has deteriorated considerably and as a result, the family has become passionate about supporting the MND Association and the research they are carrying out without any government funding.
“Seeing my uncle deteriorate so quickly really has been so difficult to watch,” explains Nicola. “His family, my aunt and cousins have shown absolutely amazing strength, courage and such determination to make every day count, they are the most inspirational people I know, they inspire me every single day and it’s a reminder that life is short, you need to make every memory count.”
In a cruel twist of fate, on Boxing Day in 2015 just months after her uncle’s diagnosis, Nicola woke up to her then fiancée and now husband Phil James having an epileptic seizure completely out of the blue just days before his 30th birthday.
“He was fitting for 25 minutes despite having no previous symptoms - it was the scariest night of my life,” remembers Nicola. “He had an operation and a week later he got the results that it was a grade 3 brain tumour, the words nobody ever wants to hear. Our world was turned upside down.”
But Phil found the fight within him and made daily video blogs of his brain tumour journey, hoping others would relate to it and raise awareness of the disease.
Since undergoing a six-hour operation, weeks of radiotherapy and a dramatic diet and lifestyle change, Phil has had five clear MRI scans and got married to Nicola five months ago.
She said: “Phil makes me proud every single day. My uncle, before he retired, was a GP and Phil has helped so many other people not to give up and to fight their own battle with cancer since his diagnosis that I wanted to give something back, to help these two amazing, yet severely underfunded charities. I’m just trying to do my bit.”
The prizes on offer at Flair Fest include two tickets for Flip Out Chester, a game for 5 people at Breakout Chester, four paddock tickets for Bangor-on-Dee races, a £12 play pass for the Ice Creram Farm, a voucher for two tickets on match day at Chester FC, two weeks family gym pass at David Lloyd gym and a week’s hotel stay at the Anniska Hotel in Kardamyli, Greece.