Bags of love

Debbie Marr (right) and Jacqueline Rhodes who have set up the charity "Hug in a Bag".
Debbie Marr (right) and Jacqueline Rhodes who have set up the charity "Hug in a Bag".
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A HUG. Sometimes that most simple of things.

An expression of love, comfort, empathy, reassurance and understanding.

Something small, which can have big meaning.

So when Cleveleys resident Deborah Marr heard from a close friend how a Hug in a Bag from a charity had really warmed her heart, she wanted to do the same for others diagnosed with cancer.

The Hug in a Bag charity was set up by three women in Sunderland, who met and supported each other during treatment for breast cancer.

They decided to do something to help others – by putting together special bags containing a variety of items including beauty, cosmetic and pampering treats, a teddy bear called Hugo, a pashmina and other bits and pieces. A bag is given to every patient diagnosed with breast cancer at the local hospital.

The ‘hug’ stands for Help, Understanding and Glamour.

Deborah said: “A good friend of mine from Sunderland was diagnosed with breast cancer and told me about this Hug in a Bag she’d been given. It seemed such a lovely idea.

“Then another good friend was diagnosed – and I knew one of the things in the bag was a pashmina. I got a little bag and a nice pashmina and gave it to her as a hug in a bag. She thought it was wonderful.

“Then my friend Jacqueline Rhodes was telling me about her good friend who was diagnosed, so I suggested she do the same.

“We decided it was something we wanted to bring to Blackpool, so we met with the Sunderland ladies.”

Deborah and Jacqueline are now in the process of putting together the bags, which cost £40 each, and will be given to breast cancer nurses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for them to distribute to patients.

Blackpool has high rates of breast cancer diagnosis, with around 300 women and four men every year given the devastating news.

Deborah said: “The idea is it’s a virtual hug. Those little gifts are to show love, to make people feel that bit special.

“I think people can feel quite isolated when diagnosed with breast cancer – they perhaps don’t want to worry their families, so maybe keep some thoughts and feelings to themselves. Getting this bag just lets them know there is support there and people care.”

The charity’s patron is Fylde singing celebrity Linda Nolan, herself a breast cancer survivor.

She was first told about Hug in a Bag by her breast cancer nurse and was delighted to get involved.

She said: “I felt it was such an amazing, lovely idea. It’s great as it is for men as well as ladies.

“At a time when you are feeling very low and it seems you have a long, hard journey in front of you, it means so much to know there is support and help out there.”

Now the ladies are trying to raise as much money as possible.

Their first big event will be a masquerade ball, on October 27, at The Hilton Hotel, Blackpool.

It will be opened by Blackpool cabaret favourites Funny Girls, who have chosen Hug in a Bag as their charity for the year.

The ladies are busy getting prizes and gifts together for an auction on the night and say they are delighted by the donations and generosity from local businesses and groups - but would still like more.

For tickets, call in at Deborah’s salon Mirror Marr, Beach Road, Cleveleys, or call (01253) 828787 or email