Some of the most valuable treasures a community can possess are the people who tirelessly devote themselves to improving the lives of others.
And Doncaster can lay claim to scores of inspirational women who have made it their mission to raise money for good causes.
Today, as part of our series highlighting Doncaster’s inspirational we celebrate just some of the borough’s charity champions who have made a real difference.
Although she died in March aged 54 after losing her fight against cancer, Denise Dunn has left a lasting legacy through Firefly.
The glamorous mum-of-five made it her mission to help cancer patients and their families ease the stress and expense of travelling to hospital appointments by launching the Firefly Express shuttle bus service.
Dee Dee, of Barnby Dun, worked with Aurora, before setting up Firefly in 2005 - a year after she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. And today her family is continuing to make Denise proud by continuing her work.
Daughter Gemma Pickering said: “My mum would have absolutely loved the fact that we are carrying on with Firefly, it’s a real team effort we all chip in where we can.
“We have fantastic volunteer drivers who often start at six in the morning and don’t finish until nine at night. My mum pretty much had us in training since she started Firefly. We’ve done everything from jingling buckets collecting money to working behind the scenes at events. Even when mum was ill in hospital she was still on her laptop arranging pick-up’s for patients from her hospital bed, she was so dedicated to the charity.
“My mum was always so focused on Firefly and she knew it would be a real fixture in Doncaster, her aim was to make it even bigger and have full time members of staff and a permanent office to help more people many people as she could and that’s definitely what were working towards.”
The team at Firefly has just celebrated a 400 ticket sell out charity ball and has scores of other charity events in the pipeline.
To find out more about Firefly, arrange a fundraiser or volunteer visit the Facebook page or contact 0773 839 054.
Fundraising stalwart Jeanette Fish is responsible for setting up the town’s first charity Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust.
The dedicated fundraiser who has been awarded with both an MBE and the Freedom of the Borough for her work which has been instrumental in raising millions of pounds for cancer care in the town.
In 1972 Mrs Fish founded the trust with the aim of raising money to spend on equipment and expertise to prevent, detect, treat or cure cancer.
Over the years the trust has bought more than 75 pieces of front-line equipment for hospitals in the area - including a £600,000 MRI scanner for Doncaster Royal Infirmary - and paid for six staff. But her lasting legacy will be the £2 million St John’s Hospice in Balby, built and kitted out entirely from funds raised by the cancer detection trust. The hospice opened in 1992 after a seven-year fundraising campaign, and in 2004 the second phase of the building was opened after a further £1.4 million was raised - including £1 million from Free Press readers.
The charity is currently finalising plans for another appeal to raise £1 million to further improve cancer care in Doncaster.
Speaking about her work modest Mrs Fish, a former midwife, said: “People in Doncaster have been so supportive of the charity over the years, the thanks must go to the people who continue to dig deep and raise the vital funds.
“We hear a lot of negative press but I think people underestimate Doncaster and how generous the residents are.”
To support the charity visit https://www.justgiving.com/doncastercancer/ or call 01302 325139 or 01302 325029.
With two sons and two step-sons Bailey nine, Aiden four, 10-year-old Reece and, Warren, seven, and a mental health nursing qualification underway, its fair to say Shiree Kerry has a lot on her plate.
But determined to make a difference Shiree still finds time to dedicate to making cancer patients dreams come true through her work with the Eve Merton Dreams Trust.
Shiree has taken on the role of community co-ordinator at the charity after being inspired by Eve Merton’s legacy.
The trust was founded by Martin Lawrence and Clynt Johnson in Martin’s mum’s memory after the popular market trader died in 2011 from cancer.
Money raised contribute towards patients and their families in fulfilling a dream or granting a wish, if only for a day.
Since supporting the Eve Merton Trust, Shiree has visited countless schools raising awareness of the charity, helped organise dream days out for patients and their families and even stepped in to the ring to raise cash for the cause with a charity boxing match. She said: “I don’t really know how I find the time I just do, it’s difficult at times but I love it, making a difference to peoples’ lives makes it all worthwhile.
“I think the fact that it is a charity that supports local people is really special and there’s that personal touch.
“I even got invited to a christening of one of the families I organised a dream for.
“It’s lovely at least one of the team keeps in touch with every person we arrange a dream for.”
Shiree didn’t even take a day off to celebrate her 30th birthday and instead spent it doing charity work.
She said: “I was at the legends football match that the charity organised. I was stood in the middle of the Keepmoat eating sandwiches with Des Walker and Lee Hendrie so that was something a bit different. I think my family and friends are really proud of the charity work I’m doing, I didn’t know Eve personally but I’ve heard all about her and she is an inspiration. I’m honoured to be working with the charity.”
To find out more abut the charity visit www.evestrust.co.uk or call 07974 689 649