Dame Jess Ennis-Hill’s support for three Yorkshire sisters

Three siblings have received support from Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill for their fundraising efforts. Catherine Scott reports.

Three sisters from Sprotbrough, near Doncaster, have received a message of support from Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

The sisters have completed a triathlon to say thank you for the care middle sister Abigail received when she was diagnosed with cancer at just five years old.

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In November 2016 Abigail Laidlaw’s mum, Jo, noticed her daughter was incredibly pale, had low energy and started to have nosebleeds. “Abigail went from being a ball of energy to wanting to be carried and holding my hand because she couldn’t keep up with her sisters, we knew something was wrong,” says Jo.

Ellena, Isobel and Abigail Laidlaw

Blood tests showed that Abigail had low haemoglobin levels and she was transferred straight to Sheffield Children’s hospital where Abigail was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.

Abigail went on to have daily chemotherapy for three years, having treatment on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s and also at home.

“Abigail took it all in her stride and showed us the way, she was a force to be reckoned with. The staff on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward were amazing.”

In 2019, after three years of chemotherapy and treatment, Abigail rang the ward bell to mark the end of treatment, surrounded by her sisters and her family.

Now, two years later, nine-year-old Abigail and her sisters, Isobel, 11, and Ellena, seven, took on a triathlon – or as they have aptly named it, a Tri-Abi-Thon – to say thank you for the care Abigail received.

The sisters have raised more than £2,500 by completing a 10-mile walk, followed by a 10-mile bike ride and then swimming 10 lengths of a pool, all in under 24 hours. The money will go to improving the Leukaemia ward.

“The ward needs a makeover to make it more up to date and create more personal spaces for the children, they are all going through so much, and the improvements will make a huge difference,” says Jo.

“Our family made up the name for the challenge and we loved Tri-Abi-Thon. We felt it was time to say a real thank you and the refurbishment is a perfect reason for us to do something different. We hope the money raised can make the facilities better for other children who need it.”

Money raised through Abigail, Ellena and Isobel’s challenge will go towards The Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s where Abigail received her treatment.

The charity is raising money to make the ward bigger and brighter with en-suite bedrooms and space for a parent to sleep alongside their child.