Penny Lancaster Stewart Announces Million Pound Garden of Hope
The 'Celebrity Garden of Hope' (http://www.gardenofhope.co.uk/ ) is a web-based fundraiser inspired by the infamous 'Million Pound Homepage' - an internet phenomenon in 2005/6. It invites people to choose from a range of celebrities and then help their chosen celebrity's tree grow leafy online, by donating £5 a leaf. The trees will grow day by day as donations come in. Supporting celebrities include not only Jonathan Ross and Penny Lancaster Stewart but Dame Shirley Bassey, JLS, Melanie C, Nicola Roberts and Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet.
The Lowe Syndrome Trust was founded by its chair and tireless campaigner, Lorraine Thomas, when her own son, Oscar, was diagnosed with the condition and she could see no hope of a cure or even of arresting the disease's progress. It is now the world’s lifeline for those with Lowe Syndrome.
"We took 10 years to raise the first million pounds," says Lorraine, "and as a result we're seeing real advances that could mean a cure. But we can't wait another 10 years: the research is on the verge of breakthroughs and it needs funds now! So we’re going for a million in 10 months!"
Lowe Syndrome is a rare, incurable and degenerating condition that affects the brain, eyes, kidneys, bones and muscles. All children are born with cataracts in their eyes, leaving them blind or partially sighted, and sadly some children never walk or talk, depending on the severity of the disease.
Oscar Thomas was diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome at the age of five and at the time was not expected to live long. He is now a remarkable 17 but, like so many others, his future depends on the research funded by the Lowe Syndrome Trust.
"With further funding," says Lorraine, "help for Oscar and the thousands of other children is almost tangible. The Celebrity Garden of Hope could make it real."
The plan has the support of Jonathan Ross, who said, "The charity really has done amazing work in the last 10 years, supporting families affected by Lowe Syndrome and funding vital research into a cure. I am encouraging everyone to get involved in the Lowe 10 month campaign to raise one million pounds and make it a truly memorable year for the charity."
Patron Penny Lancaster said: "I know I am one of many that realise how lucky we are to have good health and find it overwhelming when you think of all the different charities that need help, especially those that need vital funds for research towards cures for incurable and debilitating disease."
She continued: "Having healthy, growing children, as I do, my heart goes out to parents with the challenges of young children with life threatening illnesses like Lowe Syndrome".
As well as picking a celebrity and donating a leaf, donors can add their own message and choose whether to be identified or remain anonymous. Larger donations are welcome to add more leaves and sponsorship is available. When the trees between them have 200,000 leaves, all online, the million pound mark will be reached.
Donors can also follow their donations: rare among charities, the website enables them to follow their money, see which research project they’re helping to fund and track its success. People can donate to more than one tree, giving them the opportunity to be part of several research projects.
Lorraine concludes: "It has been an emotional journey since I founded the charity, but I am spurred on by the way research is now progressing. If we can continue to fund the projects, a cure is very near. Having a son diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome is the most heartbreaking and frightening experience. No child should suffer in this way. The 'Celebrity Garden of Hope' is designed to replace a future of fear with a future full of hope."
The Celebrity Garden of Hope is now live at http://www.gardenofhope.co.uk/ and will remain live for 10 months.
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For further information, please contact:
Lorraine Thomas, chair
Tel: 020 7794 8858 / 07958 444020
Site: www.lowetrust.com http://bit.ly/AxEfSL
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Lorraine Thomas (L) and Penny Lancaster, wife of Rod Stewart, at BGC Partners, London
Lowe Syndrome Trust founder Lorraine Thomas with long-term patron Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet at BGC Partners
(L-R) Lorraine Thomas (founder and chair), Rod Stewart, Penny Lancaster Stewart (patron) and Andrew Thomas. At a former Lowe Syndrome Trust fundraising event.