A YOUNG woman who had a rare blood cancer as a little girl is to give an inspirational talk at a fundraising ball in aid of Nicola’s Fund, a charity for children going through the difficulties of coping with cancer.

Anna Culshaw, now 20, of Carrog, near Corwen, will be a special guest at the ball, delivering a talk about her relationship with Nicola’s Fund and how the charity, who helps particular children who are unable to travel long distances, arranged an unforgettable getaway for Anna's family at Centre Parcs.

Anna, who was only seven at the time, said: “It was a genuine bonding experience for our family. Because of my illness and all the medications I was on, our time revolved around hospitals. We couldn’t do many normal activities that families do, which was especially hard on my brother who was only 12 or 13.

“But on that holiday in a new environment we just focused on being together, having fun. My brother and I are incredibly close now and I really believe that holiday started the process of making our relationship as solid as it is today.”

Anna was an Air Cadet with the 1918 Ruthin squadron from 2011, has flown in a Hawk Jet and is now a volunteer Civilian Instructor (CI) with 1251 Berwyn squadron.

Despite her high flying escapades the idea of being centre stage makes her nervous. Anna is therefore glad that her brother, Joe, will be her wingman at the ball along with parents Eddie and Sian Culshaw, as well as Joe’s girlfriend Ashleigh and Ashleigh’s mother Beverly.

Anna said: “The cause is so important and I really want to tell people what a huge difference these holidays make in the lives of children facing tough times.”

“I’m terrified of public speaking but for this I have to overcome nerves. My family's support and knowing Steve and Debbie are there will make it much easier.”

Nicola's Fund was launched 12 years ago by Steve and Debbie Riley, parents of much-loved Llay teenager Nicola Riley, who died of a brain tumor in 2005. Nicola’s bravery and generous spirit inspired her parents to carry out their daughter’s wishes and set up a charity treating seriously ill children to much needed holidays with their families.

Mr Riley, who works with Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management, the main sponsor of the fundraiser ball, said his daughter was the driving force for the charity which helped Anna and her family.

He said: “This really was Nicola’s initiative, we’re simply following through her wishes. Before she died she told us she wanted to create a fund to help children going through the hardship of illness.

“She’d be so proud of its success and to see how many children benefit.”

Mr Riley continued: “We’re so pleased Anna can be there and to see her enjoying a full, active life after all she’s been through. If Nicola were here to put into words how much the holidays mean to families, I’m sure her speech would be very much like Anna’s, full of hope.”

The fundraiser ball, a 1960s themed ‘Groovy Kind of Ball, will be held at Chester Racecourse pavilion on Saturday, April 21, in aid of Nicola's Fund.

The charity has raised more than £600,000 to date, and has helped about 650 children and their families, sending them on holidays to its two caravans in Porthmadog, North Wales, and adventure breaks at Centre Parcs.

To further the cause, Anna Culshaw’s dad, Eddie, will embark on an energy-sapping sponsored cycle this month. He and two pals Tony Perry and Pete Shaw, will pedal a staggering 1,022 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

For tickets to the fundraiser ball, or to donate, visit the website: www.nicolasfund.co.uk. For sponsoring Eddie and his cycling pals you can visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/3men3bikes2weeks or text ECUL56 with a donation to 70070.