CHARLES GRAHAM - Pride in charity ‘miracle’

Emma Hoolin, four, from Whitley, who has cancer, with her mum Jill
Emma Hoolin, four, from Whitley, who has cancer, with her mum Jill

I COULDN’T let this edition pass without mention of an astonishing feat achieved by Wigan folk this week.

You can hardly have failed to have noticed that there has recently been a massive fund-raising campaign for four-year-old Whitley girl Emma Hoolin. She recently embarked on a gruelling course of immunological therapy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia which offers her the best chance of surviving a relapse from an horrendous cancer called a high risk neuroblastoma.

That she is having this US treatment at all is a miracle in itself, because her family and friends only launched the colossal £211,00 treatment appeal nine weeks ago. And this wasn’t a project that could take its time: for the drugs to work urgency is everything.

I must confess to harbouring feelings at the outset that the Hoolins faced an impossible task, although put in the same position I am sure every parent would have tried to go to similar lengths.

Yet very soon it became apparent this was no ordinary appeal. While it has taken some equally worthy fund-raisers months if not years to amass considerably smaller amounts, the Emma appeal total fair rattled up.

In fact in all my years in newspapers I can’t remember anything like it, especially when all the charitable efforts were being channelled towards just one person rather than a humanitarian crisis.

It has to be said that the people around the Hoolins have been terrificially well organised and connected. A large publicity machine, supported by our sister paper the Wigan Observer, brought Emma’s plight very rapidly into thousands of consciences and dozens of money-spinning events organised.

And so, within an incredibly short 62 days, that mammoth target was reached. It was a truly emotional moment to receive the news, although we know that we still have to keep raising money because Emma may need extra funds if complications set in (a single day in intensive care costs thousands).

What an uplifting experience - especially in such difficult financial times! A tidal wave of generosity has given a lovely little girl the best chance of life and Wigan people should be very proud of themselves indeed.