Ellie’s Story – The Journey of Ellie’s Fund Recycling

Ellie’s Story – The Journey of Ellie’s Fund Recycling

Wed 27 February

If you’re a supporter of BTRS, chances are you’re familiar with our Ellie’s Fund recycling initiative. But do you know how it started? To mark nine years since Ellie left her legacy, this is her story… 
When Ellie Othick-Bowmaker was just 11 years old, she had a grand mal seizure in the early hours of the morning. At the time, the hospital staff thought it was probably a febrile convulsion even though she was a bit older than expected, booked her in for an EEG and sent her home.
When she returned to the Hospital to receive the results, Ellie’s mum Heather told the doctor that since her grand mal seizure, Ellie had started waking up feeling sick.
20 minutes later she was sent for a CT scan and soon after the family were sent from their home in Scarborough to Leeds General Infirmary where they met Mr Paul Chumas. From first seeing the scan, he thought Ellie had a slow growing childhood tumour that could be removed with a four-hour operation and that she wouldn’t need any further treatment. At this stage, the family were also told the operation could leave Ellie unable to walk and talk, that she would be in intensive care for several days and to expect her to be in hospital for weeks.
The next day Ellie was sent for surgery. Her procedure lasted seven hours and when Heather asked Mr Chumas how it went he said there had been complications and the tumour was doing things he hadn’t expected.
True to her personality, she woke up during the night and asked for a McDonalds! She was home by the end of the week and in the years to come, continued to astound doctors. Soon after, Ellie was diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma and was given six months to live. She continued to defy doctors and lived three years and one day from her first symptoms, passing away in Martin House Hospice in 2010.

About Ellie’s Fund

On the day the family were given Ellie’s prognosis, Heather had a hair appointment booked. When talking about it, Ellie had bet Heather that she wouldn’t have bright pink streaks put in her hair. So, to keep her side of the bet, she did.
While in the salon, the hairdressers decided to do some fundraising for the family. They organised an event which local Scarborough residents and business owners supported, raising £4,000 in one evening which was put towards a family holiday and paid for complementary therapies for Ellie. These therapies helped Ellie massively for the rest of her life. 
The year after her diagnosis Ellie decided she’d like to give something back, so she set a fundraising target of £4,000 to match what had been raised for the family that first evening. Ellie and her friends set about organising three events which raised an amazing £12,000 over the course of a week. Over the next 18 months they saw the fundraising total rise to an astonishing £25,000 before she died.
Ellie’s family always knew her fundraising would continue in her memory and after she died, a number of business people approached Heather to ask what they could do to help. In March 2010 some of them became the Trustees of ‘Ellie’s Fund – Brain Tumour Trust’, which became a registered charity in September 2010.
Heather ran Ellie’s Fund – Brain Tumour Trust working alongside other charities including BTRS until 2017 when she stepped back to focus on her family. Ellie’s Fund – Brain Tumour Trust became part of the BTRS family and is now known as Ellie’s Fund – a BTRS Charity Fund; with Heather remaining as a volunteer and running the recycling initiative around her other commitments.

About the Ellie’s Fund Recycling Initiative

Ellie’s sister Phoebe was born with a cleft lip and palate, which can affect speech development and which baby sign language is clinically proven to help. In an attempt to help Phoebe, Heather learned and then began teaching baby sign language. In a class one day she picked up a packet of baby wipes and noticed that they could be recycled for charity.
She collected a number of wipe packets, set up an account, sent them off and received the money! When she saw the system worked, and there was money to be raised for Ellie’s Fund, Heather sent a message to other TinyTalk and an event was set up on Facebook. Almost overnight, 5,000 people followed it and she was inundated with messages from people wanting to get involved.
Although Ellie’s Fund can’t accept baby wipe packets anymore we now recycle lots of different items and we are signed up to as much we can. Our recycling initiative is constantly growing and changing, and we don’t see that stopping anytime soon. If you want to get involved, see what we can recycle, choose a category that can work for you, and start saving it!

Ellie’s Legacy

In her own words to Ellie, Heather shares what our recycling initiative means to Ellie and her legacy.
“I’m grateful that in spite of our loss and our pain, we are able to do something for others in your name. ‘Ellie’s Fund’ continues to grow from strength to strength, via the money we raise for research into brain tumours through the recycling which has become your legacy.”

She continues: “How wonderful that it has the potential to help the whole world; through research that will be shared internationally, and by looking after our oceans and our wildlife. We’re so proud to be part of it.”
If you’re interested in helping Ellie’s Fund top its current fundraising total of £300,000 – of which £62,000 has been raised through recycling – follow Ellie’s Fund on Facebookor visit the dedicated recycling pageson our website. 
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