RUGBY people showed true community spirit for two fundraising events in aid of a little boy with cancer at the weekend.
A Cancer Awareness Tattoo Day was held at Rugby’s Jekyll and Hyde tattoo studio on Friday and a fun day on Saturday.
The fun day took place at the G Force martial arts centre in Wood Street and raised £5,100, with a further £2,000 expected from the tattoo studio.
Proceeds will got to Joel Richards, four, who is battling an aggressive brain tumour.
Joel’s parents Lloyd and Karen, who live in Cawston Grange, have been heartened and surprised by people’s support and kindness.
“We are so overwhelmed by everything that has happened, it really is hard to put it into words,” said Karen. “Every day since we were told our beautiful boy had cancer has been a living hell for us.
“Every day is a real struggle.”
She said to try and absorb the enormity of being told your child has cancer, to accept it and find a way to cope is almost impossible.
Karen added: “Lloyd and I struggle with this daily, but as every parent out there knows, you carry on for the sake of your children.
“This is the worst thing we have ever experienced but it is also such a wonderful thing too. We are not referring to Joel’s illness of course, but the warmth and compassion that has been show by the whole community.”
She said the love and support that has been shown since Joel’s diagnosis has been inspirational.
“It has picked us up out of the depths of despair on many occasions,” she added.
“The fundraiser on Saturday was so much more than fundraising to us. It was a day that made us feel part of something bigger than cancer.
“We felt part of a wonderful, kind, caring community, whose compassion will help us through this awful time.”
Karen added: “We had fun in the sun.
“We laughed and cried and just for a short while, we felt everything was OK.
“Good days are to be cherished when you are faced with cancer and this is a day that we will cherish forever.”
The fun day was organised by Gordon and Kirsty Burcham from the centre.
Attractions included pony rides, demonstrations, face-painting, stalls, a bouncy castle and fire engine.
Karen said: “Thank you to Kirsty and Gordon for instigating such a wonderful day.
“Thank you to everyone who helped before the day and on the day, offering their time, services and hugs. Thank you to all who attended, it was lovely to see you all there.
“Thank you to all the individuals and local businesses who have also organised their own events outside this special day.”
“We want you all to know how much your love and support means to us and how it genuinely does help give us strength and hope.”
Gordon said the fun day brought everyone together in a special way.
“We didn’t think we’d raise as much as we did,” he added.
“Rugby has some fantastic people and we would like to thank them all.”
Nearly 50 people went under the needle at Jekyll and Hyde in Church Street in honour of Joel and to raise awareness of the disease.
Cancer ribbon tattoos were on offer for £25 with every penny collected going to Joel.
Lloyd, who had a large tattoo with a cancer ribbon and his son’s name, said: “Mel and James from Jekyll and Hyde are two of the warmest, kindest individuals I have ever met.
“Never mind that they stick needles into people for a living, so do doctors!
“These guys took it upon themselves to hold a special cancer awareness day at their studio.”
He said to up and decide to do something for Joel using their creative skills is ‘awe inspiring’.
“This day meant more to me and my family than I can possibly put into words,” he added.
“The first I heard about it was when James phoned me and told me that all the proceeds would be going to Joel. ‘I don’t know what to say’ I stammered. ‘Say yes’ James said.
“A local business run by local people standing up for a local boy who has just been diagnosed with level four cancer.
“And the number of other local businesses who in turn gave of their time and services to make the day such a success, again, we cannot thank you enough.”
They are aiming to raise £2,000 for the family through the tattoos, a raffle and a full body wax.
James said: “We would like to thank everybody who supported the day.
“We’re chuffed to bits with the amount we’ve raised.”
Dave Linford has put himself forward for the body wax, which takes place at the studio on Monday, April 2 at 11am. Donations or sponsorship money can be dropped in at Jekyll and Hyde, 42 Church Street.