Group of friends standing together smiling

A self-confessed party lover who lost two close friends to cancer is raising money for the end-of-life care charity which took care of the pair at the most difficult time in their lives.

Sammy Davies, from Mackworth, – along with friends Danny Watson, Rebecca Henshaw and Jayne Wilson – have vowed to go alcohol-free for 100 days to support Derbyshire-based Treetops Hospice Care, which is continuing to support the young families of Emma Allen and Julia Mason following their untimely death.

Thirty-seven-year-old Emma, from Mackworth, died in July. She was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in January 2018 and leaves behind husband Matt and a young son, Finley. Julia Mason, who lived in Etwall, was just 36-years-old when she died of cancer in December 2019, leaving behind husband Mark and daughters Ellie (17) and Grace (12).

Emma and Julia were both popular, bubbly and beautiful girls who I miss dearly

Sammy, 48, said: “Emma and Julia were both popular, bubbly and beautiful girls who I miss dearly.

“Julia was completely bonkers – and I mean that in an affectionate way; she organised her own funeral before her death and there was a DJ who played at the wake afterwards. She was also very funny, a real character.

Both girls were supported throughout by Treetops

“Emma had a beautiful smile and a kind heart. Both girls adored their families and were supported throughout by Treetops Hospice Care.

“The last 12 months, losing two of my close friends to this dreadful disease, have been tough but I feel that doing the 100-days sober challenge has given me peace. Sadly, I can’t change what has happened; doing this for Treetops, a charity which has helped both families, makes me feel close to Emma and Julia and I have the backing of their families.”

For Sammy, a self-confessed party animal who fondly recalls her days clubbing in Ibiza, giving up alcohol has been tricky. But, three weeks into the challenge, their fundraising total has surpassed £1,700 and they’ve had support, too, from celebrity Calum Best.

The former Celebrity Big Brother and Love Island star took to Instagram to show his appreciation. He said:

“Epic work and a great, great challenge to set. It’s crazy when you think about how much you actually drink. Although you might think that it’s casual, it’s mind blowing when you add it all up.

“It’s a pretty hard challenge to do – I would find it a challenge, for sure, but it’s a credible one and one which will inspire other people.

“Be proud, keep up the good work and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s awesome doing it for the charity which you’re doing it for, too.”

I think that this will be a new way of life for me

Young woman smiling holding pet dog

Sammy with Marnie

Sammy has an added spring in her step, too, and is loving the added health benefits.

“I’m fully embracing the sober lifestyle and have had great support from friends, who also knew Emma and Julia,” she said.

“I honestly think that this will be my new lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I love cocktails and I’ve never gone through Christmas, or special occasions like weddings or holidays, without a tipple or two, but I do think that this will be a new way of life for me.

“I feel great; my skin is much better, I feel better physically and mentally – any anxieties which I had have gone completely. My eczema has also cleared up and friends have said that I’m glowing. I’m exercising more and my miniature labradoodle, Marnie, has helped with that.

“The first couple of weeks were hard. I’ve tried to give up alcohol before and replaced it with sugar – I put on a stone in weight. But this time it was different. I had a purpose; raising money for Treetops and I’ve got great friends who are doing this with me, including a friend who has had cancer. She’s joining me for the final 80 days of my challenge.

“Treetops helped Emma and Julia’s families at such a difficult time and continue to do so. This is our way of giving something back.”

Treetops Hospice Care, which is based in Risley, directly supports more than 3,000 patients across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It also supports their families through the most difficult time of their lives with their bereavement counsellors delivering 5,500 sessions each year.

The therapy team at Treetops are the reason me and my sister are where we are today

Of these sessions, which have been delivered virtually during lockdown, 1,013 are for young children. Ellie, Grace and Finley have all benefitted from the service.

Ellie Mason said:

“The therapy team at Treetops are the reason me and my sister, Grace, are where we are today.

“Throughout mum’s illness, they helped us prepare for the inevitable and also provided us with memory boxes which we look through every day.

Treetops will always be a part of our lives

“The therapy sessions which Treetops do have been the highlight of Grace’s week for the past year and she is now in a position for those sessions to come to an end. However, we know that we can contact the Treetops counselling team at any point, should we feel the need to.

“Treetops will always be a part of our lives. They created such a positive, family feel at a difficult time and we will forever be in debt to them.”Young man holding glass of beer looking shocked