Bereaved Shoreham family raise £20,000 in memory of 2-year-old daughter

A charity ball in memory of a two-year-old girl has helped bring a bereaved Shoreham family's fundraising total to almost £20,000.

Thursday, 15th November 2018, 11:16 am
Updated Thursday, 15th November 2018, 11:46 am
Michelle at the charity ball

Lola Rice died just a day after she was diagnosed with a type of tumour known as an ependymoblastoma in 2006 – leaving distraught parents Michelle De La Motte-Rice and John Rice, and her baby sister Ava.

In the 12 years since Lola’s death, her family has raised £19,180 for the Brain Tumour Research charity through various fundraising events.

Michelle, 43, said: “It’s heart-breaking that my daughters Ava, Reya and Lila-Bleu, who are all under the age of 13, will have to grow up without their eldest sister.

Michelle and family

“Lola has left a massive void in all our lives, one that we will never get over.

“To lose a child is truly heart breaking and life altering. We miss her every day.”

The family organised a charity ball at the Grand Hotel in Brighton on Saturday, November 3, which raised £8,000 for the charity.

The event included a three-course meal, a performance from Spice the drag artist, a toast from Worthing town cryer Bob Smytherman and live music from saxophonist Alice Schooley.

Guests then tried their luck in a charity auction and raffle, before dancing the night away to the live band Swamp Cats and a set from DJ Disco Dude.

Michelle said: “When we held the first fundraising ball in 2014, it was full of family, friends and colleagues, and most of them hadn’t been in the same room together since Lola’s funeral.

“This year was the third time I’ve organised the ball with my friend Josie Weaver, owner of Vivacious Events, who has always been instrumental in organising the ball.

“Our sponsors Barratt Southern Countries also provided a great support, and local companies donated prizes.”

Since losing Lola, Michelle has set up a business Gifts for Angels, which offers handmade and bespoke grave accessories and sympathy gifts.

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Read more about her unique business here.

Michelle said: “Fundraising for Brain Tumour Research has been a good way to channel my emotions and it’s helped John and I come to terms with our loss.

“We hope to host the ball for many years to come as it’s a fantastic way to continue Lola’s legacy.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at Research Centres of Excellence in the UK.

It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

Tim Green, senior community fundraising manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of Michelle, John and the all their friends and family members, who have helped to raise such a phenomenal amount in memory of Lola.

“Lola’s story reminds us that less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers. We cannot allow this situation to continue.”