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A bingo night to make mum proud – Guest post by Amy Heald

Amy, one of The Charity’s Young Ambassadors, talks about her mum’s brain tumour diagnosis and how she’s raised money in her memory.

Young Ambassador Amy smiles with her mum

Amy remembers her mother in her own words

The Brain Tumour Charity Young Ambassador Amy in a photobooth with her late mother Simone

My mum Simone was one of a kind. She was funny, caring, beautiful and had a heart of gold. I always felt very lucky to have her as my mum and lots of people would comment on the special relationship we had. But she wasn’t just family, she was my best friend in the entire world!  

Unfortunately, our world was turned upside down when she became unwell in December 2016. There were no obvious signs or symptoms leading up to her falling ill. The only thing we could pinpoint was that she went off coffee, which she usually loved, and was sick a couple of times the days leading up to her decline. However, we didn’t think the sickness was anything more than a bug or a side-effect from recently having a tooth taken out. She occasionally had headaches, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary.  

But one morning at work, she began feeling sick and soon became delirious. My dad took her to A&E where she collapsed in the car park. Various scans and tests were carried out, then we were given the worst news possible. Mum was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma.  

Something that will always stick in my mind is the morning she went to A&E.  I’d already given her a hug and we’d exchanged the usual “Love you, have a good day!” before I left for work. However, when I got in my car, I noticed her at the front door waving me off with another “Love you!”. When she was home from hospital, Mum shared that she knew something wasn’t right that day and wanted me to make sure I knew she loved me.  

Obviously, I will always know how much she loved me. I hope she knew how much she was loved too. 

After a couple of weeks spent in intensive care over Christmas, Mum eventually came home. I was only 19 years old when she became unwell, so I was a little naïve on how serious her condition was. I presumed life would return to normal.

Adjusting to the new normal after Mum’s diagnosis 

Unfortunately, the next few years were far from easy. After neurosurgery, Mum was on lots of medication and courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed. It was really hard watching Mum deteriorate. She was beautiful and took pride in her appearance, so she really struggled with side-effects like hair loss.  

It was incredibly hard having to care for my mum at such a young age. I was only child and working a different shift pattern to my dad, so I was often the only one who could look after her. However, she provided the best love and care a child could ever ask for, so I’m glad I could return the favour for a short while. 

There were definitely many highs and lows over those years, but we tried to make as many happy memories as possible. One memory that was a particular highlight was celebrating my 21st birthday, when we had a BBQ with my family and friends.  At this point, Mum struggled massively with tiredness and fatigue, but she lasted the whole day with a constant smile on her face. She was a fighter and I’ll l forever be so proud of her.  

Unfortunately, when my 22nd birthday came around, things were very different. By early 2019, Mum was rapidly deteriorating so she moved to The Old Vicarage Care Home where she spent her final months. The care she received there was second to none and it was amazing to feel like her daughter again rather than her carer. It meant we were able to create a few more special memories, like the lovely birthday ‘party’ we had to celebrate Mum’s birthday.  Sadly, after fighting incredibly hard for more than two years, we lost her in the early hours of 10 October 2019.

Hosting a bingo and burger night to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity  

Amy, a Young Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity, smiles while standing next to a collage of pictures of her mother, Simone, who died from a glioblastoma brain tumour

Shortly after my mum passed away, I arranged a Charity Danceathon to raise funds for the Old Vicarage Care Home and The Brain Tumour Charity. This was a huge success and I raised a total of £5,000 from this event.  

After the success of the Danceathon, I wanted to do another event but this time something that was personal to my mum. She loved the simple things in life, particularly her family, a big bar of chocolate and a game of bingo.  Once I was old enough, that was our Monday evening together going to a local bingo hall – which I looked forward to so much.  

So, there was no better way to fundraise in Mum’s memory than a bingo night! 

I was incredibly lucky to be given access to the Kettering Buccleuch Academy Theatre to hold both my fundraising events. It was my place of work when Mum became unwell and they supported me brilliantly, so the offer of the hall was greatly appreciated. My friends Kelly and Wendy helped me to set up the event and I was absolutely overwhelmed when tickets sold out within a day of them being advertised on social media. We had capacity for 130 people to attend, but I did sneak a couple extra in. I really wanted all the important people to be there.  

My bingo night was an evening I’ll always remember. So many people that are special to me and my mum coming together to raise money for a charity close to our hearts. Lots of happy memories were shared and many new ones were made. So many people chipped in to help make sure the night ran smoothly and I’ll forever be grateful for the help I received from my family and friends. The evening was so busy for me, but I stopped at one point to take it all in and everyone was deep in conversation, laughing and smiling – which is exactly what I wanted. It was such a lovely atmosphere. 

I gave a speech to get the night started and then we played some ice breaker games. As well as cash prizes for full houses, we had smaller prizes like chocolate for lines and corners. I had an absolutely blast being a bingo caller.   We had a short break where a local food van came and supplied amazing burgers which went down an absolute treat. Again, I’m super thankful to Mandy for her support with providing the food. Before we began again, I did a bonus round of music bingo that everyone loved. This was great way to ease everyone back into the bingo after the food.  

After the last few games of bingo, we moved on to the raffle. We had lots of great prizes, many of which were generously donated by companies. I was absolutely amazed at how many raffle tickets were sold. My dad even had to dash home to grab some extra tickets because so many people has missed out.  

Honestly, I don’t think the event could have gone any better. It was a perfect evening for people to remember my mum for the wonderful woman she was, which is so important to me. We raised £2,000 for The Brain Tumour Charity which was double my goal of £1,000. 

Mum would’ve absolutely loved this event and I hope she was watching over us with her bingo dabber in hand. So many people have let me know how much they enjoyed the bingo night and asked when we’re having the next one – so watch this space! 

A bingo rules board rests against the stage at a charity fundraiser

Host your own fundraiser!

If you’re inspired by Amy’s story and would like to host your own fundraiser, but aren’t sure where to start, we’d love to help. Click the link below to go through to our handy ideas generator. This lets you input your interests and comes up with event ideas that are ideal for you.