A tearful Ann Grady was surprised by friends and family from across the country at a party thrown in her honour by CLIC Sargent, Morrisons and The Sun newspaper. Ann, who lost her daughter to cancer on Christmas Day 2005, has devoted the last decade to helping other CLIC Sargent families.
When Ann Grady's daughter, Molly-Ann, 3, passed away in 2005, Ann knew she wanted to help other families facing cancer. For the last decade, she has volunteered and then worked for CLIC Sargent, and now manages two Homes from Home in Bristol - where families who live miles away from the specialist cancer unit at Bristol Children's Hospital can stay for free during treatment.
That is why Morrisons, along with The Sun newspaper, decided to surprise Ann by gathering friends, family and families she has helped - from all over the UK - together for a celebration of everything she has done for CLIC Sargent.
She said: "I am overwhelmed. Thank you to everybody for this surprise. I don't think I am more deserving than anybody else, but I am so grateful.
"People often wonder how I can do the job that I do, they think it must be too difficult because of Molly-Ann. At first it was hard, but I can honestly say that if anything, it’s helped me come to terms with things."
Ann thought she was going to meet a local newspaper reporter to speak about her work with CLIC Sargent. But when she arrived at the venue, she was greeted by 50 of her closest friends, family and colleagues - alongside a team from Morrisons and a film crew.
One family - Garvey Evans, 18, and his parents Glyn and Bev - made a five hour round trip from St Austell to be there. Garvey was 11 when he was diagnosed with a metastatic medulloblastoma in 2011. His family stayed at CLIC House with Ann for four months before Garvey was well enough to return home to Cornwall.
Glyn, said: "The day Garvey was diagnosed we were in Truro, and by that afternoon we were in Bristol where we stayed for the next four months. It is only because of the help and support of CLIC Sargent and Ann that we were able to make such a traumatic situation bearable."
"When you go through something like this you end up joining what we call 'The CLIC Sargent Family' and that stays with you for life. Ann is part of that family, and we visit her whenever we can. We love her and can't think of anyone more deserving of this recognition."
Jordan Anderton, Fundraising Engagement Manager for Cornwall and Devon, who attended the party, said: “After everything Ann has been through, she still gets up every day to come and help so many other families facing cancer. She is an inspirational colleague, from who no one has anything but praise and we are so pleased she has been recognised in this way.”
The surprise is just one way Morrisons are supporting CLIC Sargent, after choosing the cause as its charity partner back in February 2017. With a target of £8m, the partnership will help CLIC Sargent be there for more families facing cancer. It will fund a new team of five nurse educators, who will educate other health, social care and education professionals in hospitals closer to families' homes. It will also allow CLIC Sargent to expand its grants programme, and deliver more digital services to give instant access to resources when and where our young people need them.
Find out more about our three-year partnership with Morrisons.