HUG in a Bag Blackpool is run by a committee chaired by
Debby Marr and Jacqueline Rhodes.
Debby’s husband is from Sunderland In 2010 she was invited to her sister in law’s hen weekend in York. Unfortunately a very close friend of hers, Gill couldn’t join them because she’d recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. On the weekend of the stag do, Debby and her friend decided to take the hen weekend to Gill. They rocked up at Gill’s wearing pink feather boas and cowboy hats. They drank lots of wine and Gill drank lots of tea. Next to her feet was a gift bag and Gill asked Debby to open it and have a look at the wonderful gifts that had been given to her via the breast care unit in Sunderland. Debby started to unpack the bag and couldn’t believe all the wonderful things that were in there. Gill was so proud and overwhelmed. Having come home to Blackpool, Debby couldn’t get the bag out of her mind, one particular item being the pashmina as Debby took this as been representative of a HUG. In 2011 Debby’s neighbour was diagnosed with breast cancer and during a hospital stay Debby sent a pashmina in a gift bag, telling her she was sending her a ‘hug in a bag’. Months later, Jacqueline who was a friend of Debby, told Debby she was very upset because a friend of hers, Maggie had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Debby told her to get as pashmina and put it in a gift bag and send her a hug in a bag. Jacqueline feedback that Maggie had loved the idea and Jacqueline asked Debby what it was all about. They researched on the internet and found a contact, Judith from the charity. They rang Judith and said, ‘We love your idea, can we bring it to Blackpool?’ Judith was very surprised and said no one had asked to take it out of Sunderland. She told them that they needed the support of the breast care nurses and also to find out how many people were diagnosed in the area each year. In November 2011, Debby and Jacqueline arranged to meet with the breast care nurses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. During that time Sunderland charity had sent the girls a Hug, which they then showed to the nurses. The nurses cried and said they wanted it and wanted it straight away. In January 2012, Debby & Jacqueline met with Eileen, Judith and Sue. the three ladies who had set the charity up in Sunderland. The meeting took place in Harrogate, which was halfway between the two areas. They needn’t have been Concerned they wouldn’t recognise the Sunderland ladies, as it was obvious when they swept across the car park, like Charlie’s Angels, loaded down with all the contents for 20 bags which they gave to Blackpool as a start. After a very successful meeting to discuss a way forward, the two sets of girls parted and Blackpool HIAB was launched. The official launch was in November 2012 when Debby & Jacqueline handed over the first 20 bags to the breast care nurses at Blackpool Victoria Hosp. Since the early days of fundraising, with an afternoon tea raising £750 in 2 hours and their first ball held in September 2012 when £10,000 was raised on the night, Blackpool HIAB has gone from strength to strength. The two areas became registered charities and are run independently. To date we have raised enough funds to give 1600 bags out. We continue to spread the work of HUG by giving talks and meeting lots of people who can help us carry on giving out this wonderful gift. HUG has taken over the lives of Debby & Jacqueline, but they love the every minute of it. Debby & Jacqueline are the drive behind the Blackpool venture however they couldn’t do this without the help and support of a dedicated committee and patron. Linda Nolan became our patron when her breast care nurse Sarah introduced them to her. Linda loved the bag and was given a gift of a bag which she sent to Bernie her sister who used the items in it up to her death in 2013. Linda not only has become a enthusiastic supporter and passionate patron she has also become a very good friend to the ladies in Blackpool. The fundraising would not be as successful if it wasn’t for the amazing support the charity receives from local business. Notatiannis Ice Cream Parlour has become the charity’s sponsor when Rita Vittesse received a bag. The whole family have embraced HIAB Blackpool and continue to support all the events held. Recelty a new sponsor Joanna Cheese & Wine Bar has became involved and again provide support in raiding funds. Debby & Jacqueline are very busy people n their own right however feel grateful that HIAB came into their lives. Debby is the heart and Jacqueline is the brains behind this fabulous charity and they live and breath it to ensue its continue success.