Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Memories Are Still Strong of Love, Laughter and Tears; Avril Dean Was the Journal's Women's Editor When the Charlie Bear Appeal Was Launched to Buy a Whole Body Scanner for the North East. Today, She Tells of the First Time She Met the Charity's Founder and How the Journal Stepped in to Help

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Memories Are Still Strong of Love, Laughter and Tears; Avril Dean Was the Journal's Women's Editor When the Charlie Bear Appeal Was Launched to Buy a Whole Body Scanner for the North East. Today, She Tells of the First Time She Met the Charity's Founder and How the Journal Stepped in to Help

Article excerpt

THE first time I met Daisy Clark, she was lying on the floor of her immaculate semi in Morpeth, telling her devoted friend Connie how she would raise pounds 1m by Christmas to buy a whole body scanner for the North East.

It was around seven weeks before Christmas, she was on her back because she was in such pain and I went into work at The Journal the next morning and told everyone I thought she was mad.

But people who met Daisy Clark didn't forget her in a hurry - which was why a few years later I was proud and privileged to stand alongside Daisy when the pounds 1m target was well and truly smashed and we cut the ribbon on the scanning suite in Newcastle General Hospital.

Daisy Clark wasn't just an inspiration to work with, she was a beacon of hope for thousands of people throughout the North East. A cancer sufferer herself, she pushed herself through the pain barrier for years with just one goal in mind - to get that body scanner.

When her beloved husband Charles died from a heart attack very early in the campaign, it simply made her more determined to keep going. The teddy bears she had been making as a soft toy fundraiser became Charlie Bears in his honour and soon Daisy had roped in all her friends to sew bears for the fund.

Word spread and soon Daisy was inundated with requests for the bears. She badgered fabric suppliers for the fur and her friends and relatives for their old stockings and tights for the stuffing - and still the requests flooded in. Charlie Bear's fame was spreading - but the money was slow coming in.

What was needed was a concerted effort and having taken Daisy to meet The Journal editor, it was soon clear that not only was she a force to be reckoned with but here was a cause that people everywhere could relate to. The launch of the Make Charlie Bear a Millionaire appeal followed soon after and with the backing of The Journal and its sister papers, it soon became the North's favourite charity.

Every day brought a bulging postbag and heart-cheering tales of triumph over adversity, of courage in the face of sadness, of joy amid the sorrow. Everyone seemed to know someone who had been touched by cancer but the Charlie Bear fund was the ideal way to mark the fight, commemorate a life, celebrate a miracle. …

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