Grieving widower Chris Nixon has met his pledge to raise more than £100,000 for research into the disease which robbed his three young children of their mother.
The overwhelming generosity of the family’s friends, loved ones and strangers living in the North East has helped Chris achieve his goal, set days after his much-loved wife Sarah died from aggressive ovarian cancer.
Rushed to hospital for a Caesarean section, Sarah gave birth to the couple’s youngest daughter Poppy. But with the joy of their new baby came the devastating blow the 38-year-old had a cancerous cyst, with the disease spreading to her abdomen.
A fortnight after taking Poppy home to be with her excited brother Oliver, now six, and sister Sophia, four, devoted mother Sarah was admitted to hospital in a worsening condition, never to return to her family home in Washington.
Determined to help fund research into the illness which took his wife, months of hard work by Chris and his friends came to fruition this weekend when he staged the sell-out Bellagio Ball, named after the resort where the couple married.
Alongside the music, acts, auction and raffle was a moving video tribute to Sarah, reminding the 400-plus crowd why they were there. Chris said: “I didn’t want it to be a sombre occasion but I felt it was important to remember why we were having the ball and to share with those who might not have known Sarah just what she was like.
“We’ve got all of the balloons from the ball at the house. The children are going to write messages on them and release them up into the sky.”
Helping top Chris’s £100,000 target on the night was a 63-lot auction with items including a Brazil football shirt signed by sporting great Pele, a Dirty Dancing film poster signed by the late Patrick Swayze and an electric guitar signed by chart toppers Coldplay. But it was a framed and signed print montage of the Bond film Skyfall which got bidders most excited, finally going for £16,000.
Chris said: “We are still totalling up how much was raised, but it is a staggering amount.
“The support we’ve had from people to make it happen and raise the money has been overwhelming and there are no words to describe how truly appreciative we are.
“There was a moment when I stopped and looked at the crowd, packed to capacity, all there for Sarah.”