A family has raised more than £80,000 to help the fight against breast cancer – and show no signs of giving up.
The charity ball organised by sisters Michelle and Barbara France is one of the city’s biggest fancy dress parties.
Now in its 15th year, the annual ball has raised £80,000 for breast cancer research at the city’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, with the proceeds from this year’s event still to be counted.
The money raised goes towards the France Scholarship, set up in 2013, which pays for two students to take a year out of university and study breast cancer.
Michelle, aged 57, from Waterthorpe, said the event is such a part of their lives she could never imagine giving up organising it. But when the time does eventually come, she said their children will take over.
The women decided to start their charity work after Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. Sister-in-law Sharon Beresford, from Halfway, fell ill with the same condition a year later.
Sheffield Hallam University provides use of its Hubs as a free venue as Michelle and 58-year-old Barbara, from Sothall, work at the university as catering assistants
Michelle, a mum-of-two, said: “When I was diagnosed in 1997 I had a terrible time. I nearly died and was in intensive care. Barbara said we should try to organise a fundraising event just to put some money back into the hospital because the nurses and doctors were fantastic.
“We decided to do a ’70s fancy dress night because we thought it would be a laugh.
“After the first one it just went on. Everyone was asking when we were going to do it again.”
Michelle said this year’s event was the best yet – with revellers’ wacky costumes including Starbucks drinks, pea pods and Cousin Itt from the Addams Family.
She added: “It was fantastic – the outfits were amazing. Each year everyone’s imagination gets better and outfits get more outstanding.
“It’s just that big that I couldn’t let go organising it. I cannot see me and Barbara ever getting tired of doing it.
“When you are at the event and look around, seeing everyone dressed up, laughing and enjoying themselves, your heart almost breaks.”