Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Cancer treatment teen's Christmas cards selling by the sackful

Christmas cards designed by a Coleraine teenager while undergoing cancer treatment have been in high demand since her story was told by the Belfast Telegraph.

Ava Martin (13) designed the festive card from her bed at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children during her current treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

They’re now printed and are being sold in their hundreds by CLIC Sargent to raise funds for its Homes From Home Appeal.

The Belfast Telegraph’s Christmas Appeal aims to raise £50,000 over the festive period towards the overall £3.7m needed to build two respite centres.

Ava’s cards have been in high demand since they were published, raising lots of cash for the children’s cancer charity.

Her mother Martina said the teenager was given a great boost by the popularity of the cards.

“When Ava created the Christmas card design she was pretty sick. She was sitting up in her bed and used the food serving table to draw her cards. She is so pleased with the response her cards have gotten so far, it's great for her,” she said.

“Ava goes to Coleraine High School and the staff there alone have already ordered 60 packs, raising £300,” she added.

“My brother has a hotel in Cookstown, the Greenvale. He sells them there. They are available in A Broader Picture in Portstewart and Memento in Portrush.”

Cash raised for Homes From Home will be used to build two respite houses near treatment centres at the Royal and the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital to offer a sanctuary and alleviate the stress and cost of travelling.

Ava and her family live in Coleraine so fully understand the importance of a homely base.

The teenage card designer said: “I know what it's like to be away from home. I wasn't allowed visitors so the days were very long. I was waiting for quite a while for my diagnosis and was in hospital for two-and-a-half weeks.

“It would have meant everything to have a home from home, it would have meant I had a nice place to go and a bit of normality.”

Her mum said Ava was in hospital for up to five weeks at a time.

“I found myself and Ava were isolated quite a bit while she was ill in hospital, and that's the time you want to have your family around you,” Martina added.

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