Brave Lilly will be guest of honour at festival organised by her mum

August 2016

A UCB lecturer has single-handedly organised a children’s festival in honour of a charity which provided respite when her daughter was seriously ill.

Louise Hickman’s world was turned upside down when Lilly, then aged just 18 months, was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer.

After more than a year of intense chemotherapy and laser surgery, Lilly, Louise and husband Jason enjoyed a precious holiday abroad thanks to Sara’s Hope Foundation, a charity which provides breaks for children living with cancer.

Now, to celebrate Lilly’s amazing recovery and to say thank you to the Foundation, Louise will this Saturday (August 27) host the Hope Festival in her home town of Kidderminster. It will be packed with entertainment including baby yoga, football workshops, crafts, bouncy castle, face painting and lots more.

Best of all, Lilly herself will be there enjoying the fun - something Louise could only have dreamed of following the devastating diagnosis in 2014, when an ultrasound scan revealed she had Retinoblastoma in both eyes.

The toddler was treated for a total of four tumours - two in each eyeball - and sadly lost her sight in her right eye as a result.

A holiday in Crete, organised by Sara’s Hope Foundation, gave the family a chance to enjoy normality. Louise, a Beauty Therapy lecturer at UCB, said: “Lilly got to be a little girl for a week, having been in an adult world for so long, and we got the chance to be a family again, which was priceless. Lilly was treated like a princess the whole time.”

Organising the festival to raise money for the Foundation has been especially therapeutic for Louise, as she explained: “When your little one is poorly it consumes you. Every thought, every day, revolves around their illness. It’s only later on, when you start to reflect on what you’ve been through and it suddenly becomes real.”

Brave Lilly now undergoes two monthly check-ups, under general anaesthetic, and is preparing to start school in September. Louise added: “Lilly is a total chatterbox, she’s confident, sociable and has absolutely no fear. She will love the Hope Festival and I hope lots of other families do too.”

To find out more about the Hope Festival, which takes place at Rowberry’s Garden Centre from 9.30am to 6pm, visit www.hopefest.co.uk

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