Rebecca Haestier, Ilkley Grammar student wanted to help raised funds for Candlelighters by swimming 20 lengths with two broken legs which are in cages. 

Courageous student Rebecca Haestier who is 14 years old, decided she would like to raise money in an epic swimming challenge to give back to Candlelighters to help children and their families who are going through their most difficult time.  

Rebecca recently had a cancer scare, but thankfully she got the all clear. While Rebecca was in Hospital, she met our Family Support team at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

Rebecca said: ‘Thankfully everything is ok for me. But while I was in hospital, I met some children who didn’t have such good news. I also had the opportunity to see and experience firsthand how wonderful Candlelighters are and the amazing work they do. From having Netflix at your bed to delicious food to tempt you to eat. They were so friendly and supportive and full of joy. They make such a difference to what a scary and overwhelming situation is. 

Along with support from her mum, dad and sister and friends, Rebecca decided to take on her very own swimming challenge in the hope to raise £200, but not just any ordinary swimming challenge.  In January 2023 Rebecca, had both her legs broken and put in external fixators which are cages which makes it very difficult for her to walk and she relies on crutches and a wheelchair to get around. Rebecca decided she wanted to go big and bold, swimming 20 lengths with her legs in cages with mum swimming at her side at local swimming baths in Settle.  

The brave and fearless student, Rebecca, swam 20 lengths in an amazing 45 minutes raising an incredible £2,716 for us! She celebrated with her family that night with a movie and takeaway. Rebecca is also working with the antibullying team at her school who are going to do some further fundraising for us. 

Becki Marren, Senior Regional Fundraiser said: I feel so privileged to support amazing people like Rebecca, who want give back to their local community. The determination and bravery of Rebecca’s challenge is so inspiring and the incredible money she has raised will help pay towards three family holidays, providing them with some much-needed escapism and allowing them to make previous memories together. Rebecca should be so proud of herself.’ 

A 31-strong team of family and friends will complete the race in support of Gracie-Mae McHugh and Candlelighters. 

The lives of Gracie-Mae and her family were turned upside down in February when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, aged just 2. Parents Helen and Danny, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, first took Gracie to hospital in January with flu-like symptoms. She was discharged, but at home quickly deteriorated, losing the ability to walk, and developing a concerning rash. Upon returning to the hospital, they received the devastating diagnosis and were immediately transferred for specialist care at Leeds Children’s Hospital. 

The diagnosis came as a total shock to the family, especially given just a few days earlier, Gracie had been playing and dancing like usual. Gracie was initially placed on an aggressive chemotherapy plan which she has responded well to, but she’ll require a further 2 years of chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from returning. Helen and Danny, who also have three other children, have praised the support they have received from us since Gracie’s diagnosis. We have spent time with the family, offering guidance and support, and helping to explain Gracie’s diagnosis to her brothers in a child-friendly way.  

Now, a team of 31 of Gracie’s family and friends are showing their support by taking on the Manchester Half Marathon on Sunday 15th October to raise funds for the charity. It is hoped that if Gracie is well enough, she will be waiting at the finish line to see everyone complete the race.  

Gracie’s mum, Helen, says, “From day one when Gracie was diagnosed, Candlelighters have been there for us through the darkest of times. In the first few weeks when we were feeling so scared and lost, they were always on hand to provide emotional support and a shoulder to cry on. The support they offer is endless and they are always a comforting presence on the ward. As much as you expect a children’s cancer ward to be a sad, depressing place they make sure that it is a cheerful, happy environment.  

I could say so much more about them but can never put into words how much they helped us and continue to do so, making the worst time of our life just that little bit more bearable. Although we can never really repay their support and kindness a group of us will be running the Manchester Half Marathon in October raising money for Candlelighters and the amazing work they continue to do!” 

Gracie’s family have raised over £2,800 so far. They also hope to book a special trip for Gracie when she is feeling well enough to allow her to make some wonderful, happy memories.

Allen Hart from Leeds became involved with Candlelighters after we supported his family throughout his daughter, Laura’s, diagnosis and treatment for Wilms Tumour. Laura sadly passed away in 2007 aged just three. Allen began fundraising before Laura died and has continued ever since, making him one of our longest-standing fundraisers.  

It all began with Allen and a group of friends doing their first quad bike fundraiser, riding from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 2006. Allen took to the quad again in 2007, this time riding from Leeds to Folkestone, and then to Madrid and back – a total of over 2,400 miles.  

Since then, Allen has supported Candlelighters in lots of ways and advocates for the charity wherever he goes. A plumber and heating engineer by trade, Allen has also used his professional skills to raise funds. By asking viewers of his popular ‘how-to’ YouTube channel to donate to Candlelighters if they found his videos valuable, he has raised over £150,000 – an incredible amount in Laura’s memory.  

Another huge part of Allen’s fundraising has been his charity boiler installations, donating his work time installing boilers that he has bought himself or have been donated, and gives the amount paid by the customer straight to Candlelighters.  

Allen’s amazing fundraising started to gain some attention and in 2016 he won a Pride of Britain Award. Using the attention from this award, Allen was able to secure sponsors for ‘Gas Chat Tour’ – taking his charity boiler installations across the country. Travelling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a van he’d branded in Candlelighters pink, Allen installed a boiler per month in different locations. It was a huge success, with lots of other engineers and companies donating their time and resources to help. 

By championing Candlelighters far and wide, Allen has helped us to receive even more funding. Several businesses that had heard Allen’s story, like Artic Hayes and Oakwood Garden Rooms, are now huge supporters of Candlelighters and have raised over an astonishing £176,000. 

Allen’s amazing support and advocacy have made an immeasurable difference to so many families facing childhood cancer, continuing Laura’s legacy each year.  

Today we’d like to say a huge thank you to the Leeds Paediatric Dentistry Team who took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks to raise funds for Candlelighters!

Claudia Heggie from the team said, ‘As a children’s dentistry team, we work with oncology teams to make sure that children have healthy mouths ahead of their cancer treatment. As a result, our team gets to meet many of these children and their families, and we see first-hand the support that Candlelighters provide and how appreciated this is. Candlelighters have also supported my research project, which is exploring the use of light treatment to prevent and treat mouth ulcers during cancer treatment. Their family support team have volunteered their time to support us in getting the views and opinions of children and young people and their parents as our research progresses.

As a team, we wanted to show our support for Candlelighters and the amazing work they do by setting ourselves a fundraising challenge. We are delighted that we successfully completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in our bright pink Candlelighters T-shirts and that we have managed to raise over £2,000 with the support of our friends, families and colleagues. We are already talking about doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks again next year… To all at Candlelighters, thank you for the work you do for our patients and their families.’

We are so grateful to Claudia and all the Paediatric Dentistry Team at Leeds Dental Institute for their incredible fundraising efforts which will help us to support children and young people facing cancer. And a huge well done for conquering the Peaks!

If you’ve been following us for a while, you might be familiar with Elliot Gunn, founder of the #TeamElliot fundraising group. This year, Elliot became one of the youngest in the country to complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks, aged eight, in aid of Candlelighters. Throughout last year, Elliot and the rest of the team of family and friends completed a number of incredible challenges to raise funds for Candlelighters.

Community Support Worker, Chloe, and Regional Fundraiser, Rebecca, were super excited to welcome Elliot to The Square this month to confirm his fundraising total for 2021, which was over an amazing £6,000! This now takes Elliot’s fundraising total to over an astonishing £17,000 since 2019!

We are so, so grateful to have the support of such awesome and kind people like Elliot and the rest of the fabulous team; you are all total superstars. We can’t wait to hear all about your plans for this year too! Thank you Team Elliot!

We were thrilled to announce the return of our annual Sibling Residential trip this year, to Kingswood Dearne Valley. This trip is for all of our siblings to have a fun time, enjoy being children and make special friendships with other siblings who have been affected by childhood cancer.

They had lots and lots of fun doing everything from zip lining to scrapheap fashion shows, archery to orienteering, abseiling to gathering round a campfire for singalongs and smores!

Today we’d like to say a special thank you to our kind business supporter Slumberdown, for their support in covering the cost of the coach to and from Kingswood, as well as providing all the children with a lovely scented pillow each for the stay and to take home!

Could you be amazing take on a challenge for Candlelighters? Click here to read our Fundraising Pack to get started.

We’d like to say an enormous thank you to a brilliant group of people who recently completed the Lyke Wake Walk across the North Yorkshire Moors, in support of Tom who was diagnosed with glioblastoma over Christmas last year.

Tom’s cousin, Harriet, who organised the walk said, ‘When Tom was diagnosed it was the middle of lockdown and a pretty miserable time for everyone. When out walking with a friend, we chatted about doing a challenge to raise money for a cancer charity. We needed something to aim for during a really miserable period.

The Lyke Wake Walk stretches across the North Yorkshire Moors, where I, and Tom, grew up. It was fitting to do a Yorkshire based challenge for a Yorkshire based charity. I then approached a group of friends to see if they were interested- to my amazement, eight got on board, and so did my mum!

The walk was gruelling! 42 miles of challenging terrain, narrow footpaths with many boulders, bogs, hills and endless miles across the moors. The hours flew by, the ten of us spent most of the time catching up! We were supported at each checkpoint by friends and family, including a few surprises – with pizza being delivered by Tom and his mum! By 9pm though, the storm that threatened to cancel the whole day hit us. Darkness fell very fast and the rain dampened our spirits.

We finished 19 hours after starting; soggy, tired out and emotional. But also incredibly proud of each other for finishing the task and raising an incredible amount of money for Candlelighters.

The pain we endured that day, the sore limbs and blisters, is nothing to what these children and families endure. I hope the money we’ve raised helps bring a little light and laughter to them all.’

In total, the challenge raised over £6,000 and we are so, so grateful to everyone involved in this incredible feat – you should all be so proud of yourselves.

Could you be amazing like the Lyke Wake walkers and take on a challenge for Candlelighters? Click here to read our Fundraising Pack to get started.

A wonderful group of 26 inspirational ladies dubbed ‘Heart & Sole’ from Harrogate, recently walked the distance of a marathon in and around the Harrogate area to raise funds for Candlelighters. Charlotte Broadwith, who organised the event, was inspired after hearing how the pandemic had negatively impacted community fundraising for many charities. She said, ‘Candlelighters is a charity that does so much for families in Yorkshire, including one family close to my heart, and I wanted to help generate some funds that haven’t been raised through the local events’.

With the route set, the energy bars packed and the trainers worn in, each of the 26 ladies set off with hope that the forecast of thunder and lightning would hold off for eight or so hours. With a light drizzle over a lunch donated by Hatmill, the team were hopeful, however at mile 22 a torrential downpour was to join their last few miles!

Originally aiming to raise £6,000, the group of friends spectacularly exceeded this goal – finishing the challenge on over £27,000 raised, to be split between Candlelighters and Saint Michael’s Hospice. Charlotte had the brilliant idea to ask local businesses to sponsor a mile of the walk each, to a fantastic response, and the team boosted their total with a raffle too.

Cleo Tasker, a member of the group whose family have received support from Candlelighters, said, ‘From the moment my son was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma aged six, the team at Candlelighters stepped in and made the nightmare somehow bearable. Through their never-ending presence on the ward and in the day clinic, we had support through all three-and-a-half years of gruelling chemotherapy. Chemo for Ralph didn’t stop for Christmas or birthdays or a pandemic, but nor did the support that the Candlelighters team offer on a day-to-day basis. It is so important that the support families receive during such an extraordinarily difficult time can continue.’

The walk took eight and a half hours in total and we’d like to say a big thank you to all of the incredible Heart & Sole ladies for their fantastic fundraising efforts which will make a huge difference to the families we support. You are all superstars!

Could you be amazing like Heart & Sole and take on a challenge for Candlelighters? Click here to read our Fundraising Pack to get started.

We’d like to say a ginormous thank you to 12-year-old Theo for his Coast to Coast cycle challenge!
Fabulous Theo decided to take on the challenge of cycling a whopping 140 miles coast to coast, from Whitehaven to Tynemouth, raising over £2,000 for Candlelighters in the process. Theo was inspired to fundraise because of the support we were able to give his younger sister, Rose, throughout her cancer experience. Mum Emily, dad Tom, and uncle James joined Theo on his fantastic fundraising journey (which ended closer to 160 miles with some detours along the way!), with Rose choosing to stay at home and enjoy some quality time with Granny and Grandpa instead! 
Could you be amazing like Theo and take on a challenge for Candlelighters? Click here to read our Fundraising Pack to get started.
Today we’d like to share the story of Jill Weaver and her daughter Jess. Recently Jill published her first book of poetry, inspired by Jess. Below, Jill explains a little about their story.
‘Jess was an eight year old little girl who loved her family, friends and being mischievous! She was spirited, kind and loved making noise, particularly on her euphonium! She was generally happy, healthy and enjoyed being a ‘mini mum’ as she would say (the sunglasses picture below perhaps explains where that name came from!), but only eight years and two months into her life, everything changed.
On 18th September 2019, we received the most devastating news; Jess had leukaemia. We couldn’t believe it – only hours earlier, Jess had been playing at school.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (cancer of the blood) progresses quickly and aggressively, so we were instantaneously catapulted into a world of chemotherapy, operations, transfusions, hospital stays, intensive care and lots of medical procedures that (up until that point) we had very little knowledge of. As adults, we were frightened, knowing all too well the fragility of human life. But Jess was a fighter; her bravery and courage were part of who she was, so we were hopeful that would help to get her through.
We were surrounded by knowledgeable professionals, promising statistics and lots of help and support. All of which reassured us we were in good hands and helped us to tackle the battle head-on. Charities such as Candlelighters helped us along the way; they offer support (for both patients and families), practical advice, and relief in terms of normality and fun (wherever possible) in between the medical procedures. We will forever be thankful to them and have raised over £10k for them since October 2019.
In spite of all this, 18th October 2019 brought some tragic news. Exactly a month after diagnosis, Jess lost her battle. None of us were expecting it. Like her diagnosis, Jess’ death was sudden – only hours earlier, she’d been painting pictures in the hospital playroom. At the time, no one could explain to us what had happened. Not only had we lost our beautiful, spirited, mischievous little girl, but we didn’t understand why.
The doctor with us explained that medical advances in children’s leukaemia had come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. The disease, the infection, and the treatment used to fight the leukaemia (whilst necessary) all combined were too much for Jess to cope with. Medically speaking, Jess had been one of the statistics we were warned about – one of the children who wouldn’t make it.
Jess will never be a statistic to us. She was the loving, spirited little girl who taught us about bravery and courage and about looking for the rainbows when it rains. As Jess’ mum, I am committed that Jess’ memory will live on, that her fighting spirit keeps going (in every sense of the word!) and that something positive will come of our tragedy. I would love to see a world where no child and family ever has to experience what we did.’ – Jill Weaver
Since losing Jess, Jill has raised funds for Candlelighters in her memory in various ways and now will donate some of the proceeds from her book – ‘In Our Shoes’ to further help other children and families facing childhood cancer. We are so grateful to Jill for this kind gesture which will help us to continue supporting families across Yorkshire when they most need it.