Two little girls whose mother tragically died from a rare form of cancer will help light up the St Annes sky next week.
Eva Shaw, seven, and her sister Isla, three, have been invited to switch on the fireworks at St Annes Cricket Club’s annual display,
The gesture from the club follows the death of their mother Joanna Shaw, 39, who lost her battle against adrenal cortical cancer just 20 days after being diagnosed.
Their father and Joanna’s husband Gareth Shaw, of St Annes, said: “It’s real community round here and with what’s happened to me and my family it’s nice everybody can think about me and I’m touched really.
“The cricket club is our club. We’ve been going since we moved here 11 or 12 years ago. I’ve been a member since I was a boy.”
He said the Eva and Isla, who attend Heyhouses School, “were really looking forward” to the event.
It’s real community round here and with what’s happened to me and my family it’s nice everybody can think about me and I’m touched really
“It’s nice to be recognised by the club,” said Gareth, 45, an environmental health officer with Blackpool Council.
Chris Joy, spokesman for the cricket club, said: “The family are regulars in the cricket club at all the events we have and in view of what happened we thought it was a nice gesture for Gareth and for the children to come along.
“Each year we’ve invited someone along to come along and press the button for the firework display.
“What can you do for somebody that’s just lost their mother? You can’t do a lot. It’s just something for them to look forward to. It’s just one step along the way for them and to help take their mind off things.
“I’m sure Gareth is pleased. The family have played a good part in the club over the years.”
On the night Eva and Isla will join the town crier on the clubhouse balcony where they will press the button to activate the display, which is being staged by a company from London.
Joanna, best known as Jo, was given the devastating news she had adrenal cancer, which affects just 40 people out of the 330,000 diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year, after returning from the family’s summer holiday
Gareth said the family “had lost the jewel in its crown”.
Teachers and staff at Southlands High School, Chorley, where Joanna worked, paid tribute.
Her pastoral manager Alan Thomas said: “Her death at such a young age and the fact that she is leaving behind such a young family makes her passing even harder to understand. Staff and students are still in shock at her passing and it will take time for school to recover.”