Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Halloween open garden raises £1,200 for boy’s cancer treatment

Halloween open garden raises £1,200 for boy’s cancer treatment

A COUPLE raised more than £1,200 for a boy fighting cancer by transforming their front garden into a Halloween scene.

Teresa and Peter Johnson’s home in Crowsley Way, Sonning Common, had a castle frontage with a drawbridge, polystyrene tombstones, wooden stocks, animated witches at a cauldron, skeletons and a full-sized pop-up coffin.

They were fund-raising for Charlie Ilsley, 11, from Emmer Green, who has undergone CyberKnife treatment in Turkey in an attempt to eradicate two tumours on his spine.

Hundreds of people, including Charlie and his mother Toni, visited the couple’s home on Wednesday evening last week. They consumed more than 40 litres of hot chocolate and hundreds of sweets in return for donations.

The Johnsons have decorated their garden at Halloween for more than 10 years but chose to raise money for charity for the first time last year, collecting almost £400 for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

This year, they chose to support Charlie and his family who still have to raise about £15,000 towards the £45,000 cost of his treatment and the family’s flights.

Mrs Johnson, 47, said: “Charlie needs as much support as he can get from everybody and if it means one less pint of beer or a meal out then why not? He’s such a delightful little soul. Toni brought her mum and dad and they are such a lovely family.

“We really need to look after the people around us and take note of what other families are going through.

“ I just feel blessed that my grandchildren and kids are well and I haven’t got to go through what this family is having to. It was a very successful evening — it was so busy and the garden was jam-packed. The children loved it, taking their time looking at everything.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the amount raised and when we did the count-up at the end of the evening we thought, ‘my goodness, people have really gone all out’. They had been so generous.”

Mrs Johnson and her husband and her sister Katrina Silver and her husband Cliff spent several weeks making the props.

She said: “We did prepare in advance and do as much as we could. On the day we started at 9am and it was all hands on deck.”

Mrs Ilsley said: “It was amazing — they had gone to so much trouble.

“I didn’t think it would be as big as it was. It was above and beyond what I expected it to be — there were lights everywhere. Charlie just couldn’t believe they’d done all that for him.”

Her son drew the winning raffle ticket from the cauldron.

Lauren Rees won a 32in TV donated by Philip Mullin, of Sonning Common Vauxhall.

Mrs Johnson thanked Mr Mullin and Ru Butler, of Peppard Building Supplies, for providing the materials for the castle and paint.

CyberKnife, which is the latest in radiotherapy and delivers a high dose with pinpoint accuracy, is not available to children at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where Charlie had surgery previously.

He had the treatment in August and since then has returned to Ankara with his parents every few weeks for chemotherapy treatment.

To donate, visit www.gofundme.
com/cyberknife-treatment-for-charlie

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