Russell Watson launches the inaugural Katy Holmes Trust North West Pride Awards
- Credit: Archant
Singing star Russell Watson and Lancashire Life are among a host of supporters backing the inaugural Katy Holmes Trust North West Pride Awards which will take place next year in Blackburn.
When ten-year-old Katy Holmes lost her battle against an inoperable brain tumour in 2012, her parents knew they had to do something to celebrate her life. Paula and David Holmes formed the Katy Holmes Trust and have been tirelessly raising money in an effort to find a cure for the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 in the UK.
The Trust, a charity based in Preston, is now ready to take the next step in raising awareness and celebrating brave and supportive individuals by launching the first annual North West Pride Awards.
Paula said: ‘Katy’s younger sister, Charley, was nominated when she was eight to receive a WellChild Award for being the Most Caring Young Person of 2012, celebrating her bravery in concealing from Katy just how ill she really was.
‘It was presented in London by WellChild patron, Prince Harry. When we saw all of these introverted children suddenly open up on the evening and really enjoy themselves, we knew we had to create something like that in the north west.’
Due to be staged at the Mercure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa in November 2015, they already have a host of sponsors on board, including media partners Lancashire Life. ‘The response has been phenomenal. I am amazed at who wants to help out. There is a real buzz about it,’ said Paula, who was recently awarded Inspirational Woman of the Year 2014 at the Enterprise Vision Awards in Blackpool. ‘I am so surprised it hasn’t been done before outside of London.
‘I want the children involved to be treated like royalty on the evening. Charley was dressed as a princess when she received her award and we want to make others feel the same. There will be lots of magical surprises.’
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The Katy Holmes Trust also has a patron who holds Katy’s illness very close to his heart. Lancashire-born tenor, Russell Watson has been supporting the charity since he met Paula and David at the Preston Christmas lights switch-on in 2012. The singer has suffered two life-threatening brain tumours in the past.
‘It means so much to me, as well as Paula and David, to support an event that is magical in every sense of the word,’ said Russell. ‘Award ceremonies like this are normally seen in London, and it is about time we had one here in the north west to celebrate brave children.’
‘I get such a huge buzz out of helping charity and have a real affinity with these events after my illness. I have never met a couple so driven to a project as Paula and David and, having two daughters myself, I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if I lost one of them. I wouldn’t want to go on anymore, but they have done the complete opposite and put together this drive to fund research and raise awareness.’
Russell has previously helped to raise money for the Katy Holmes Trust through his ‘Concert for Katy’ at Preston Guild Hall in 2013, generating an amazing £37,000 for the charity. This time around, he is hoping for the North West Pride Awards to generate even more.
‘Paediatric brain tumours are the number one killer of children and it is ridiculous that governmental funding is at a mere 0.71%,’ said Russell. ‘I want to generate a huge amount of support for this project and this prestigious event, where we can all celebrate very poorly and inspirational children. It will be a brief respite from their daily routine.’
The awards will not only recognise special children aged four to 18, but also fundraisers and professionals involved in the support of caring for those in need. ‘Winners will receive a ‘Charley’s Angel’ award,’ said ambassador, Kirsty Henshaw. ‘It has been designed by Katy’s sister. We don’t want anyone to be left out in the awards so everyone is covered.’
‘In two years we have managed to raise £500,000 and we couldn’t have done this without the amazing people of the north west,’ said Paula, who also mentioned that the final sum raised will be matched by the government and Great Ormonde Street Hospital. ‘We need to raise £700,000 to fund vital paediatric brain tumour research. We want to prevent others going through this and experiencing the same heartache. By helping to raise funds for research, you are a part of the future.’