An organisation set up in memory of an inspirational Padiham teenager to bring a smile to the faces of poorly children and their families has been spreading cheer across the North-West.
And, as the New Year starts, Hayley’s Hugs, dedicated to the memory of Hayley Barker, is looking for new premises to expand and continue the good work.
I’d like to go all over the country with it and not just stay in this area and make people smile because that’s what’s importantMum
Hayley (17), who was always smiling and wanted to make a difference to the lives of others, died two years ago from complications after undergoing a double lung transplant. But her friends and family decided to keep her memory and wishes alive by setting up Hayley’s Hugs, which grants wishes for poorly children and young people whose parents are suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.
Over the festive period, the Hayley’s Hugs team, led by Hayley’s mum Lisa (42), delivered donated gifts to children at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where Hayley received treatment for leukaemia as a child.
Lisa, who, in November, won a Katy Holmes Trust North West Pride Award for her efforts, said Hayley’s Hugs has received so much support that she would like to see it become a national charity, helping children and families all over the country.
“We don’t just grant wishes for children who are suffering from cancer themselves but also their siblings or children whose mums or dads have the disease. I know all too well how having a poorly child can affect the whole family.
“I think Hayley would be so proud. She wanted to make a difference. She always said that when she was better she would help people. When we went to the hospital there was a sea of purple blankets which was Hayley’s favourite colour. She would have been well chuffed.”
In February last year Hayley’s Hugs opened a shop in Burnley Road, Padiham, selling charity goods and home-made crafts but Lisa said they are now looking for new, bigger premises to keep up with demand.
Hayley’s sister Leah (17) and brother Leighton (8), a pupil at St John’s Primary School in Padiham, are also heavily involved with the fund-raising.
Lisa said: “We have had a really good response. The support we’ve had over the last year with fund-raising has been fantastic. I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped us.
“I’m excited about this next year. I’d like to go all over the country with it and not just stay in this area and make people smile because that’s what’s important.
“You don’t know how long you’ve got with somebody and it’s important to make the most of that time.”
Anyone who is interested in helping Hayley’s Hugs can get in touch via the Facebook page www.facebook.com/Hayleys.Hugs.