1810. Lorraine Wilson
Lorraine Wilson, from Accrington, founded ‘Milly’s Smiles’ in memory of her daughter Milly, to support the wellbeing of children and their families undergoing cancer treatment by providing them with bags filled with both essential and comfort items.
Milly was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in November 2014 and died in September 2015, aged 11 years old. Lorraine, herself an Intensive Care Nurse, wanted to do something in her daughters’ memory for other families, and was aware of how daunting and disorienting it can feel for children and their families when they receive a cancer diagnosis and are required to take up an unexpected hospital stay for treatment. Lorraine began producing ‘Milly’s Bags’, filled with essential items, such as toiletries, as well as a rainbow blanket and other comforts, including a homemade knitted elephant soft toy. Over 700 ‘Milly’s Bags’ have now been distributed to children undergoing cancer treatment at children’s hospitals in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, and Lorraine aims to expand and donate a ‘Milly Bag’ to every young cancer patient in England.
In a personal letter to Lorraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I am lost in admiration for the legacy you have created in memory of your daughter, Milly. When children with cancer and their families are experiencing the toughest of times, your ‘Milly’s Bags’ are a source of comfort. With toiletries, blankets and handmade soft toys, the bags are a brilliant way of making days spent on hospital wards a little brighter.
“I wish you every success as you expand your volunteering to having a presence in every children’s hospital in England. On behalf of every family you have helped, and the whole country, thank you.”
Sara Britcliffe, Lorraine’s local MP for Hyndburn, said:
“Lorraine absolutely deserves this award. The work she has done to provide Milly’s Bags to children in hospital will have been a comfort blanket for so many children and families going through what must be one of the hardest times of their life. Lorraine has done this after going through the same with her own daughter, Milly, and this award is an honour to both of them. Through this work, Milly’s memory carries a positive impact to so many others lives.”
“This award has come as a huge surprise. I feel extremely humbled to be able to accept this on behalf of my daughter Milly, in recognition of the work I do with her charity ‘Milly’s Smiles’.
“Supporting families who find themselves facing an unexpected hospital stay after their child has been diagnosed with a cancer related illness is a privilege, it is where my heart lies and I will continue this work for many years to come.
“Thank you for recognising our work with such a prestigious honour.”