Inspired by brave Ashleigh’s battle

Fundraising success: Ashleigh Darnes and Linda Fox with the latest �1,600 being handed over to the Neuroblastoma Society.
Fundraising success: Ashleigh Darnes and Linda Fox with the latest �1,600 being handed over to the Neuroblastoma Society.
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GENEROUS motorists who donated their loose change to a children’s cancer charity collection at a roadside snack bar in Wigtoft have raised more than £5,000.

Linda Fox and Phil Cooper first put a tin on the counter at the Tea Junction on the A17 about four years ago after being inspired by the story of Spalding’s Ashleigh Darnes.

Ashleigh was just two when doctors discovered she had a Neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive cancer mainly in children under five, in her adrenal gland. Only about 20 per cent of children diagnosed with Neuroblastoma survive. Ashleigh was one of the lucky few.

Phil and Linda have now handed over their latest cheque to the Neuroblastoma Society for £1,600 – taking their overall total to more than £5,000.

“We get asked if we have a tip box occasionally and people just put in their loose change,” said Linda, who lives in Pinchbeck.

“We are surprised how much we collect. Drivers even fill their ashtrays with change and drop it in the next time they come.”

Ashleigh, who is now 13, lives in Wentworth Close, Spalding, with dad Trevor (46), mum Clare (43) and brother Jack (17).

“It’s a horrific time for any parent to have a child in a life-threatening situation and going through treatment,” said Trevor.

“In September or October 1999 Ashleigh kept being unwell and they kept saying it was a virus.

“Then a doctor said it wasn’t right and referred her to hospital for some tests.

“They found she had a tumour which had spread to her bones.”

Ashleigh, a pupil at Gleed Girls’ Technology College, underwent almost a year of intensive treatment with chemotherapy and operations.

Trevor already knew Linda but also made visits to the Tea Junction through his work as an environmental health officer at Boston Borough Council.

“Linda picked up on Ashleigh’s illness in a story in the Lincolnshire Free Press a few years ago,” he said.

“We got talking about it and I took Ashleigh to see her one day as we were passing.

“They got on well and after that they started collecting for charity.”

He added: “They have collected a phenomenal amount of money. It’s overwhelming.”