The children’s cancer charity held its much-loved Christmas Party for the families it supports on Sunday 4th December in Bradford, with over 400 family members from across Yorkshire attending.
For over 45 years, Candlelighters has supported families facing childhood cancer across Yorkshire by offering a range of practical, emotional and financial support services.
Each year, Candlelighters holds a Christmas Party for the many families they support, providing an opportunity for these families to spend some much-needed time together, and have some fun and escapism from their day-to-day reality.
This year’s Candlelighters Christmas Party took place on Sunday 4th December at Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford. It was the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic that it has been possible for the party to go ahead.
Over 400 family members attended the party, and were treated to an afternoon filled with Christmas magic and fun.
A selection of mascots and characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Elf on a Shelf, were there to welcome guests on arrival, before a DJ and dance troop helped start the fun. A magician wowed the families with magical moments throughout the afternoon, and a tombola, lucky dip, photo booth and crafting table provided fun and laughter. To round the afternoon off, all the children got to meet Santa and Mrs Claus.
One family who was looking forward to the party was three-year-old Rosie’s. Rosie lives with her parents, Helen and James, and her brother, Toby, in Harrogate.
In May 2020, the family’s world was turned upside down when, at just 15 months old, Rosie was diagnosed with a tumour on her spine. She needed urgent surgery, and much of the tumour was removed during a nine-hour operation. However, devastatingly, three months later the tumour returned, meaning another operation was required. Rosie suffered nerve damage during this second surgery, and temporarily lost the ability to walk and crawl.
The impact of a childhood cancer diagnosis is completely indescribable. It tore us apart straightaway and has changed us forever as a family. It was a terrifying time.
Rosie’s family’s last two Christmases were hugely affected by her illness.
It was an incredibly difficult time as Rosie was midway through her chemotherapy treatment. Her side effects were awful and she was more vulnerable to infection, so we couldn’t risk travelling anywhere for Christmas or seeing our extended family.
Even though it wasn’t possible for the Candlelighters Christmas Party to take place for the past two years, the charity was still there to bring Rosie and her family some Christmas magic with a range of support, including Christmas grant and activities and decorations at the hospital.
Rosie has now finished her treatment and is doing really well, and her family is looking forward to spending time together this Christmas.
It’s hard to imagine how we would have made it through last Christmas without support from Candlelighters. This year, we’re so looking forward to going to the Candlelighters Christmas Party. It’s hard as a family to prioritise luxuries like parties when you have a child with cancer. They cost a lot of money and you don’t know whether they’ll be well enough. We’ll get to see other families who are in the same position as us at the party, and they’re the only ones who truly do get it.
Each place at their Christmas Party cost Candlelighters £25. This Christmas, the charity asked supporters to support their mission to bring festive magic to children facing cancer by donating towards the cost of a party place. Candlelighters are now asking supporters to help make Christmas magical for children in hospital by helping to fund Christmas Eve boxes, which cost £15 each.
Emily Wragg, CEO of Candlelighters, said:
We were absolutely beyond excited to have been able to hold our Christmas Party this year. Our Christmas Party is such a special event for the children and their families. All year round, we see first-hand the devastating impact that childhood cancer can have on a family, and the financial strain it can cause. Christmas can be an especially difficult time for a family with a child who has cancer, so we so wanted to give these families happy memories that last a lifetime, and allow them to escape from cancer, just for a while.
It’s all thanks to the generosity of the public across Yorkshire that we can be there for families when they need support, and every £1 that is donated this Christmas helped bring some Christmas magic to a family facing childhood cancer when they need it the most.
To find out more about Candlelighters’ Christmas Appeal and how you can still make Christmas magical for children with cancer, visit: www.candlelighters.org.uk/chrismas-at-candlelighters
You can find out more about the work Candlelighters does on their website at www.candlelighters.org.uk/