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20 Sep 2019 Community

“Giving the Gift of Time”

Pauline Jackson was a patient on Kirkwood’s In-Patient Unit back in December 2012 where she spent the last few weeks of her life. Ever since then, daughters Helena and Katherine Ellam, of Mirfield, have organised a glittering fundraising ball every two years in memory of their Mum, and to say thank you to Kirkwood for giving them “the gift of time”.

The Ellam sisters’ fundraising balls are well known within the Mirfield community, where every two years, hundreds of guests join together to raise vital funds for Kirkwood and Operation Smile.

Since 2010, the charity balls have raised in excess of £25,000; with proceeds being split between the two charities.

The most recent ball took place back in October 2018 at Berties’, Elland and raised an amazing £8,800.

Kirkwood was delighted to receive the £4,422 donation from the Ellam sisters


The sisters first decided to raise money for Kirkwood to say thank you, and contribute to Pauline’s lasting legacy.

Helena said: “In September 2012 we got the news that turned our world upside down. We were told our mum had cancer. Our mum was our best friend. As things quickly spiralled, we were told in mid-October she had 24 hours to live, so we encouraged her to go to Kirkwood Hospice.

“She went from being laid in a bed, saying her goodbyes to everyone and totally giving up, to sat in a chair at Kirkwood Hospice having a cup of tea. Her fight returned and she lived a further 8 weeks at Kirkwood. In that time, we went out for walks, laughed and joked together. She even made it home for a week.

“We said our final goodbyes on the 20th December. Kirkwood Hospice gave us something money can’t buy; they gave us the most valuable thing in the world, the gift of time. We will be forever in their debt.”

Katherine said: “Helen, a nurse at Kirkwood, made it so much easier and had a laugh with us. It gave us a bit of normality. When mum came to Kirkwood she could have whatever she wanted, and whatever she needed to make her feel comfortable.

“It was like going from a nightmare where we thought she was going to die within 24-hours; to coming here the very next day and we saw her relax for the first time.”

Kathering, Nurse Helen and Helena


Helena added: “Mum was still alive when we organised our first ever ball, we raised money for Operation Smile as my daughter has a cleft lip. When mum became ill and was cared for by Kirkwood she asked us to raise money for them as well.”

Katherine added: “After mum died we both came to Kirkwood for counselling and they’ve helped us massively. We appreciate it and we’ll never stop fundraising. We’ll never forget what they’ve done for us, we are eternally grateful to Kirkwood.”

Their 2018 Ball in October has been the most successful event to date with friends, family and local business partners coming along to support the evening.

On the night, Helena’s seven-year-old daughter, Evie, took on the daunting task of hosting the event in her stride, encouraging guests to take part in fundraising activities and bravely standing in front of the whole room to read a poem.

The ball had some fantastic prizes donated for both the luxury raffle and the auction. Around 40 raffle prizes were donated, which included a lip augmentation session, Pure Gym memberships and a George Jenson necklace.

The grand auction also had some fabulous prizes up for grabs, including an Anthony Joshua glove, a Tag watch worth £2,000, a signed Lionel Messi shirt and tickets to the Ashes.

Katherine and Helena recently paid a visit to Kirkwood to present Media and Marketing Officer, Nicola Barber, with a cheque from the event.

Helena and Katherine with Kirkwood Nurses and Nicola Barber


Nicola said: “We’re all so proud of everything the Ellam sisters have done in memory of Pauline, and so grateful for the amazing amount they raise at every ball. It’s people like Katherine and Helena that enable us to care for more people affected by a life limiting illness in our community.”

The Ellam sisters’ would like to extend their thanks to John and Kelly Harrison, who managed to secure some amazing prizes for the evening and Pauline’s brother, Chris Spooner, for running the auction.

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