Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TGNEWS to 80360 or you can email us Click here for details »
Brave Gemma's fundraising success
A BRAVE young woman who may only have a few years left to live has been busy raising money for charity.
Gemma Rawles, 27, from West Thurrock is battling cystic fibrosis, and doctors say her life expectancy is just 31.
But Gemma, who still works, is refusing to let that get her down and has just raised nearly £6,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a charity searching for a cure for the disease.
She started planning a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Thurrock Hotel, in Ship Lane, Aveley, earlier this year, but it nearly didn’t go ahead due to her ill health.
Gemma said: “I have now completed the event with the help of local businesses and friends, it was a bit touch and go as I got admitted into hospital and I wasn’t sure if the event was going to go ahead, but I am pleased to say it did, and we finally raised nearly £6000.
“I’d like to thank all the businesses that helped, and for everyone's support.”
Sandra Howarth, east regional fundraising manager for the CF Trust was thrilled with Gemma’s work.
She said: "Gemma's efforts have been amazing and we rely on our community of wonderful fundraisers to help us provide, support and fund research for families affected by CF.
“£6,000 will buy 10 holidays for people with CF who desperately need a break and an additional 10 transplant assessment grants to pay for the costs associated with being assessed for transplant.
“There are 198 people in Essex affected by CF,19 of them in Thurrock so this money will make a real difference."
While Gemma was busy thinking about her charity fundraiser, her friends were busy raising their own funds.
Through a Facebook group, they clubbed together to raise £7,000 to buy Gemma a piece of lifesaving equipment called “the vest”, that is not available on the NHS.
A grateful Gemma added: “Patients can only have it if they are prepared to front the money, this piece of equipment will help to keep me healthy for when a cure becomes available.
“It only arrived yesterday and I am very lucky that I have been able to get this piece of equipment.”
Cystic fibrosis causes a thick sticky mucus in the body, which affects a number of internal organs, particularly the lungs and digestive system.
Sufferers are faced with a number of difficulties such as recurring chest and lung infections, and persistent wheezing and coughing.
Cystic fibrosis can also cause mucus to block the ducts in the pancreas, and organ which produces essential food-digesting enzymes.
When it is blocked, not enough of the enzymes reach the intestines to help break down food, which can cause a number of troublesome symptoms including malnutrition and diabetes.
“The vest” is a machine that can reduce the need for certain types of physiotherapy by dislodging mucus with high frequency chest wall oscillations.