The tragic death of a 23-year-old woman from cystic fibrosis has brought a village together to raise funds in a charity auction to help combat the deadly disease.
Banham Community Centre Association is staging the auction in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust on April 12 in memory of Sonia Alexander, and is appealing for donations of lots to be auctioned or included in a grand raffle.
Miss Alexander’s father, Peter Lawton, lives in Banham and is a regular user of the centre. He said: “It was an idea first proposed by people at the Community Centre. They wanted to do something for the family. We recognise what we have been through as a family and what others are still going through. In the 23 years that Sonia was alive, research into cystic fibrosis moved on a lot, but there still isn’t a cure and people are dying from it.”
Mr Lawton’s daughter seemed a healthy baby when she was born on October 12, 1989, but by eight weeks old had been diagnosed with the disease. She had an operation on her left lung at the age of four and a gastrostomy feeding tube fitted when she was nine, but she never let her condition stop her from doing many of the normal things children do.
After school in Wymondham, she studied beauty therapy at Norwich City College and then worked for May Gurney before becoming a prototype build administrator for Lotus Cars.
She was a member of Wymondham Young Farmers Club and in 2012 travelled to New Zealand with her partner, Jamie Cave, and even took part in a bungee jump.
Sadly, her lungs began to fail in January 2013 and she died on August 23. Over 400 people attended her funeral in Wymondham Abbey with tributes paid to her “sparkle and zest for life”.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder which occurs when a child inherits faulty genes from both parents. It attacks the lungs and digestive tract causing thick secretions which block the organs. For many sufferers, treatment involves a rigorous daily regime of physiotheraphy and medication, with many only surviving into their teenage or early adult lives.
Louise Hawkes of Banham Community Centre said: “We were deeply saddened by the great loss felt by the family of such a beautiful young lady taken in such an untimely manner, and are keen to find a way of suporting them in their grief.” She said organisers hoped to raise awareness of the condition as well as lots of money towards research. Pledges and donations can be sent c/o Louise Hawkes to Banham Community Centre, Kenninghall Road, Banham, Norfolk NR16 2HB.