Concert raises more than £8,500 for Welwyn Hatfield-based charity

Megs and Bob Wilson at the Willow Carol Concert held in St Albans Cathedral [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography]

Megs and Bob Wilson at the Willow Carol Concert held in St Albans Cathedral [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography]

Debbie Ram Photography

A sold-out audience enjoyed this year’s annual Willow Carol Concert at St Albans Cathedral.

Hertfordshire Chorus at the Willow Carol Concert held in St Albans Cathedral [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography] Hertfordshire Chorus at the Willow Carol Concert held in St Albans Cathedral [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography]

The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban was packed on Tuesday, December 5 as charity supporters joined Willow life presidents Bob and Megs Wilson, and helped raise more than £8,500.

Magical musical performances by the talented Hertfordshire Chorus and Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School Choir were mesmerising, while there were readings by charity beneficiaries and local dignitaries.

Guests gathered after the performance for wine and mince pies, generously donated by Simmons Bakers.

Charity beneficiary and fundraiser Jackie Scully also shared her inspirational Special Day story, giving guests a real flavour of Willow’s purpose.

Bishop's Hatfield Girls' School Choir at the Willow Carol Concert held in St Albans Cathedral [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography] Bishop's Hatfield Girls' School Choir at the Willow Carol Concert held in St Albans Cathedral [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography]

After a marriage proposal on Christmas Day 2013, Jackie was on top of the world – but just three weeks later, aged 32, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

After months of surgery, gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Jackie and her fiancé, Duncan, were sent on the Orient Express by Willow for some much-needed time out from the treatment and constant trips to hospital.

Jackie said: “If serious illness has taught me anything about this beautiful world of ours, it is that life is too short to spend even a moment wishing it away.

“When I reflect back over my treatment year, I don’t feel sad. I feel only gratitude.

Willow beneficiary Jackie Scully [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography] Willow beneficiary Jackie Scully [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography]

“And that’s because of Willow. In nearly losing my life, this incredible charity reminded me of all the wonderful things I had to live for.

“Willow brought us together at a time that could have ripped us apart.”

Beautiful baubles adorned the Willow Tribute Tree in memory of loved ones, and a bauble procession saw Bob and Megs hang a bauble in memory of daughter, Anna, who was the inspiration for Willow.

Former Arsenal and England footballer Alan Smith also placed a bauble representing the charity’s ambassadors and celebrity supporters, alongside representatives from Willow staff, trustees and volunteers.

In memory of Lisa Langford [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography] In memory of Lisa Langford [Picture: Debbie Ram Photography]

Willow life president and co-founder, former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, said: “A sold-out crowd at this year’s Carol Concert made for a very special evening.

“Seeing so many of Willow’s supporters, including those who themselves have benefitted from a Special Day, means a great deal to us.

“We are so very grateful for everyone’s generosity which enables us to reach out to people in need this Christmas, and beyond.”

This festive season, Willow will receive more than 350 applications from people who are struggling to stay positive in the face of overwhelming news.

The Welwyn Hatfield-based national charity organises Special Days for seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds.

All donations, large or small, will make a huge difference.

Donate to Willow’s Christmas Appeal at willowfoundation.org.uk/stephanie

The Willow Carol Concert was sponsored by St Albans-based company Borras Construction.

Staff at the company have been fundraising for Willow since 2008.

• For more information about Willow visit willowfoundation.org.uk

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