Family are ‘desperate’ to stop Penny’s illness

Penny and Nick Wheeler
Penny and Nick Wheeler

THE family of a terminally-ill Belper woman have paid an emotional tribute to supporters who are preparing to stage a further two fundraising events to help pay for life prolonging treatment.

Penny Wheeler, 52, has been helped by a dedicated band of local people since diagnosed with scleroderma and pulmonary fibrosis. Fundraising became a greater priority when she was refused funding for treatment by Derbyshire PCT in June 2011.

An army of volunteers have already helped raise thousands towards the twice yearly £13,000 treatment Penny requires.Now, a huge family focused event is being planned at Belper Rugby Club and a music festival is also being staged to boost funds further.

Penny Wheeler’s son, Dan, thanked supporters who are pulling out all the stops at the events to help his mother.

“Penny’s Fund is so important because our family’s desperate to stop the illness becoming any worse. It’s really humbling to see how many people have come to the events we’ve already organised because it lets us know we’re not on our own,” he said.

On July 21, the “Belper Games” will descend on the town’s rugby club in aid of the fund. The main event will be an It’s a Knockout style tournament.

There will also be a huge craft fair and food festival and visitors and a children’s area with fairground rides, bouncy castle and facepainting and the rugby club will be providing a fully licensed bar throughout the event.

The event, which runs from 11am – 5pm, costs £2.50 for adults and £1 for children under 14 to attend,

Penny’s husband, Nick, said: “There hasn’t been a huge family focused event in the town for a number of years now and we decided to organise the games as a way of bringing local people back together and giving everyone a fun and memorable day.

“Since we set up Penny’s Fund in 2010 we’ve run a series of different fundraising events and we’ve received fantastic feedback and been encouraged run more.

“So far we’ve got some excellent stalls and activities planned for the games and we’re urging anyone who wants to take part or hold a stall to get in touch, the bigger we can make the event the more enjoyable and memorable it will be.”

Also lined-up to raise funds is PENNYFEST 4; a day of music featuring local bands and creative people from across the region at Vines Bar, Sadler Gate, Derby on June 17.

The bi-annual fundraiser is headlined by Shapes, a former Rock Sound “Band of the Week”, who in 2011, toured with Glassjaw and Pulled Apart By Horses and released their debut album, Monotony Chic to universally positive reviews.

Dan said of the event: “Pennyfest is an opportunity for local people to get together and be part of a really fun event with lots of great bands and creatives.

“Happily, a by-product of that is that we make a lot of money to help my mum.”

For the latest news on the Belper Games search for Penny’s Fund on Facebook or follow @pennysfund on Twitter.