Former TV presenter and ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson's daughter, Anna Carey, suffered a rare form of cancer and died about 6 years ago. During the last few years of her life, she would treat herself to days out; going shopping in a stretch limo, a Robbie Williams concert, football matches and day trips to France. She found that for days before and after, the adrenalin and 'feel-good factor' of her red letter days, helped alleviate her pain. Moreover, it had a positive effect on her family and those around her.
Bob Wilson was so impressed with the effect these special days had on Anna's morale, that when she died, he and his wife Megs set up a charity to provide them for others. Over the last six years they have provided 1,000 special days for seriously ill young adults aged between 16-40, mainly in the Hertfordshire region. These range from horse whispering and sky diving, to pampering and sports events, one woman even wanted to learn how to drive an articulated lorry. Now the Willow Foundation, named after Anna's nickname, is to go national. Each trip is especially tailored to recipient's needs and dreams and funded completely through the charity.
Bob said that they had been fortunate enough to be able to help Anna live out some of her dreams - and that it was important to try and do the same for others. Cancer specialist Professor Robert Souhami, a member of the Willow Foundation's independent Advisory Board, helped care for Anna said, "Most people need times when they can simply enjoy themselves and do something that they have always wanted to do but somehow have not managed. For someone who is seriously unwell the sheer effort of organisation, and the cost, is often enough to make longed-for occasions unrealisable."
This is another story that doesn't make the headlines, but, for me, is so important that it is heard. Bob Wilson has quietly and patiently built up this charity that can provide so much for relatively so little that it has to be admired. Every year, he runs the London Marathon to help raise funds for the charity. He and his wife, Megs, are truly to be commended, - and he wasn't a bad goal-keeper, either.
Truely, it is the little things that can make a huge difference.