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Press photographer bids to help terminally-ill best friend

Leah MA former regional daily press photographer has launched a fundraising campaign to help her terminally-ill best friend “make the most of the precious time she has left”.

Ex-Derby Telegraph and Oxford Mail photographer Leah McLaren, left, is hoping to raise £10,000 for Donna Connellan so she can have a family holiday with her husband and children before she becomes too ill.

Donna, a 32-year-old mother-of-four, was left “broken” last week after doctors revealed there was nothing that could be done to save her from the acute myeloid leukaemia she had been battling since March.

Leah, 30, who is now working in national newspapers, hopes the money raised on the JustGiving page will go towards Donna’s children doing “brilliant things and being able to look after each other while grieving for their mum.”

Donna and Leah have known eachother since they were babies and were once dubbed the “buggy twins.”

Leah’s campaign has won the backing of Donna’s hometown newspaper the Burton Mail, with the appeal making the front page two days running this week.

Burton mum

Said Leah: “She is my best friend and it is the worst feeling in the world to be so helpless.

“Donna has dedicated her life to her family and she has been so strong. She has raised four beautiful children to be loving, kind and little clever clogs. Most importantly they love their mum more than anything.

“Throughout her illness her family have been what’s kept her going for so long. Getting home to them has always been her goal and being without them while in hospital has been the worst thing for her.

“Never have I heard her moan or ask for anything. She’s taken every day with such bravery and has never let go of positive thinking and determination to beat this disease.”

An editorial in the Mail reads: “It is a tale of heartbreak that, tragically, cannot have a happy ending. Donna Connellan has been told that there is no treatment for the cancer which has ravaged her body.

“However, the 32-year-old has decided to ensure that the coming weeks are spent enjoying time with her husband John and her four children.”

“The Mail today now calls on readers across Burton and South Derbyshire to help Donna and her family make some memories. They have all put together a bucket list of things they would like to do and we want to try to make them all happen.

“This is where our generous and kind readers come in. If you can help, whether it be in a big way or a small way, then we want to hear from you.

“We can all play a part in helping make the remaining time this family has to spend together as amazing as it can be.

“Donna’s story should be one that will touch the hearts of every single one of us.”


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  • February 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    For my daily minor grumbles, I’m feeling rather small. Well done Leah and to Donna, Go girl!

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