My name is Collette and in January 2010 my partner James died suddenly from a heart condition, leaving family and friends shocked and devastated. James was just 33 years old. He was an amazing partner in every way – hardworking, keen sportsman, full of fun and one of the most loving and kindest people you could ever wish to meet.
He was also a fantastic stepfather to Naomi, loving son to Sylvia and Jim, treasured younger brother to Paul and Allison and Uncle and Godfather to Tyler. Our lives will never be the same without him and there will always be a huge gap in our family.
CRY has given us all ongoing support and advice about screening – also providing counselling for myself through Carly at the CRY team, who has been wonderful. James’ brother Paul and nephew Tyler also attended Prof Sharma’s clinic in London for screening where they were seen by Dr Papadakis who was also wonderful. CRY has also helped in ensuring that all blood relatives have the necessary screening and this is still ongoing.
James’ sister-in-law Allison and myself wanted to show our appreciation to CRY and also arrange something in memory of James for friends and family. We decided to organise a fundraiser which would allow friends and family to get together and reminisce memories of James, whilst also raising awareness of CRY.
On 17th July 2010 – the day before what would have been James’ 34th birthday – we arranged a huge charity fundraising evening at Salvatore’s in Kirkham, near Preston. The evening was packed, with a disco, karaoke, raffle, auction and a very special surprise!
On the night Salvatore’s was bursting at the seams with James’ family and friends. Mark Bowden provided us with our free karaoke and disco packed full of James’ favourite songs, as he loved music from all eras!
Our surprised guest arrived and the look on people’s faces was just priceless! James would have found it the most hilarious thing ever – a “Del Boy” lookalike!!! We would like to say a big thank you to Maurice Canham for making this surprise possible and a very memorable evening. He was the talking point for weeks and still is!
Raffle tickets were sold throughout the evening and some fantastic prizes were kindly donated from local businesses such as restaurants, hair and beauty salons and local cinemas to name but a few. We would like to thank all the people for their wonderful donations.
Brian Sandham from “Stillshot” photography took professional photos during the night to capture those special moments and these were then sold with a donation for each put in the funds raised for the night. We would like to thank Brian for all his help.
The main highlight of the evening was without a doubt the auction, which was undertaken by Marvyn Dickinson – one of James’ closest friends. He was absolutely brilliant, bringing lots of humour and encouraging people to put their hands in their pockets. Auction prizes included: a framed picture of all the characters from “Only Fools and Horses” donated by Maurice; signed England and Everton shirts, football boots signed by Nani and a signed script from Coronation Street all donated by Marvyn Dickinson; a signed Celtic shirt donated by Colm McDonagh; and a CBT training voucher donated by Riverview Rider Training, where James passed his full bike test in November 2009.
We would like to thank all the winning bidders for their generosity and everyone else who helped and donated making the evening such a success.
The night itself was very emotional for all of us but we managed to raise a grand total of £2500 which we know James would have been proud of.
All the CRY leaflets were taken on the night, giving knowledge of SADS to friends and family – and this was proven when lots attended the mobile CRY screening at Morrison’s in September.
We will continue to raise money for CRY to show our support and appreciation on James’ birthday. Naomi – now ten – is already making plans for a sponsored walk next July that our children can take part in and we have a few ideas for the adults too!