The tragic story behind Sheffield masked ball charity event
A young woman is throwing a charity masked ball in Sheffield to show her support for two friends who were diagnosed with serious illnesses within days of one another.
Georgia White was shell-shocked when first her old school pal Melissa Marshall learned she had cervical cancer, and then former work colleague Samantha McNally was told she had Crohn's Disease.
Melissa, who was aged just 23 at the time, underwent life-threatening surgery to remove part of her colon and although she has since been given the all-clear she is left unable to have children.
Samantha, then 21, has had to adapt to life with the long-term imflammatory condition, symptoms of which include abdominal pain and extreme tiredness.
Georgia was inspired by the pair's life-changing experiences to raise money for research into the diseases and to increase awareness that they can affect people of any age.
The 24-year-old, from Chesterfield, has already organised one successful charity evening which raised a total of £5,000 for charity.
She is now organising a much grander fundraising bash at Sheffield City Hall this March, which she hopes will smash that total.
"When Melissa and Sammy were diagnosed within a week of each other in January 2015 I was shocked and devastated. It was a very scary time," said Georgia, who works as a senior administrator at a Chesterfield GP surgery.
"Sammy wasn't diagnosed for a year and with Melissa it was around two years because nobody expected these diseases to affect someone so young.
"I want to raise awareness to stop this happening to others and to help catch the diseases at the earliest possible stage."
Georgia has organised an impressive line-up for the masked ball on March 4, tickets for which are now on sale, and she is keen to secure sponsors for the event.
As well as tucking into a three-course meal, guests will get to enjoy music from X Factor star Alex Wallhead, along with dance acts, magic tricks and more.
Proceeds from ticket sales and a raffle and silent auction held on the night will be split between Cancer Research UK and Crohn's and Colitis UK.
* Fusions Charity Masquerade Ball will take place at Sheffield City Hall on March 4, with doors opening from 6.30pm. For tickets, priced £45, email [email protected]