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Bereaved daughter raffles handmade hat for Brain Tumour Research

A charity worker from Buckinghamshire is raffling a handknitted hat to help fund research into the disease that took her dad’s life.

Emma Jolly, from Milton Keynes, is hoping to raise at least £500 for Brain Tumour Research by raffling a bobble hat as part of the charity’s Wear A Christmas Hat Day campaign.

The 25-year-old, who started knitting and crocheting at the age of 12 and has a degree in fine arts, said: “It took me about a week to make because I used a few different yarns. It’s 100% wool and has different colours in it as well as a pom-pom on top.”

Her inspiration for the fundraiser comes from her dad Mark who developed secondary brain tumours after being diagnosed with kidney cancer in January 2018.

Mark, a much-loved father-of-three who worked as an IT project manager for Santander in Milton Keynes, had a tumour in his kidney the size of an orange. The cancer spread to his lungs, spine, neck, bone and brain. He died in June 2020 at the age of 49.

Emma, a supporter care administrator and community fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer, but it was the brain tumours that affected him the most. He was really ill for a couple of years and, although he lived longer than the doctors said he would, once it spread to his brain, things got a lot worse.

“He couldn’t speak properly, everything was gibberish – he knew what he wanted to say but just couldn’t get it out. He also became snappy and irritable, which just wasn’t him. He was a really clever, funny and caring man but the brain tumours changed his personality a lot.”

Emma started making bags for fun after discovering some “spectacular” cord at a knitting and stitching fair. She posted photographs of her creations on Instagram and, due to demand, began selling them through the online marketplace Etsy.

As her dad’s condition worsened, she experienced “brain fog” and it became harder for her to concentrate on her job as a buying assistant. Eventually, she quit to concentrate on her Emma Jolly Shop business full time. Now she does it part-time and sells the accessories she makes on stalls, such as at the White Hart Christmas Market in Sherington.  

She said: “Any time I did anything, Dad was so enthusiastic, and always thought of ways I could go further with it. I knitted him a hat in our last Christmas together so I know he would have loved what I’m doing now.

She added: “I feel like supporting a research charity is the most practical kind of help I can give. As much as support is needed, I feel like getting to the root cause of the disease and finding out how to fix brain tumours by coming up with a cure is the way forward.

“My dad was quite practical and would want to find a solution to any problem. I feel he would have been really interested in the charity and probably would have campaigned for it himself.”

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: 

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. This has to change. We’re grateful for Emma’s support and would urge everyone to dig deep into their pockets for this very worthwhile cause.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To find out more visit www.justgiving.com/page/emmajollyshop-wearachristmashatday-raffle or text HAT to 70450 to donate £5 to Brain Tumour Research. Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message.