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Skydiving Mum shocked at pizza workers' donation

A Mum of two who is set to skydive for charity was shocked when a pizza shop worker made a shock donation.

Pizza chef Shaheen Chaudhry handed over a full weeks’ wages of £240 to Iram Esa, 28 towards her sponsored hospice skydive in memory of her sister Alia who died in 2010.

Iram, who lives in Blackburn aimed to raise £500 for East Lancashire Hospice and was halfway to her target when Shaheen, a friend of the family got in touch through Facebook to make the total up to £500.

Iram said she was delighted when the kind offer was made: “I’ve been posting on Facebook a lot and asking friends to share the details as I want to raise as much as possible for the hospice. In less than a week I raised about £250 then I saw the message from Shaheen. I didn’t want to get too excited until I had the money but the next day I went to the pizza shop and he had the money ready – I couldn’t thank him enough for his kind donation. My beloved sister Alia lost her battle with cancer at just 28 years old, leaving 2 beautiful boys behind. You only have to witness the staff at the hospice to appreciate how much of an awesome job they do. A good friend of mine recently lost his father to cancer as well and couldn’t praise the hospice highly enough.”

“My niece Lois Gillen-Mehmood and I have been going round collecting the donations as she is also doing the skydive, and Shaheen even added another £10 to sponsor her too!”

Shaheen, 39 from Blackburn who has worked as a pizza chef at Pizza Tops, Whalley Road, Clitheroe for 9 years said it was an honour to support the ladies for a good cause. He said: “I’ve had friends who’ve suffered through cancer and I know how devastating it was for Iram to lose her sister. I have a lot of respect for the hospice and when I saw what Iram was doing I had to help. She was over the moon when she came to collect the donation and it made my day. I couldn’t resist an extra £10 for Lois when she came with Iram too. All my colleagues were clapping and cheering and I had my picture taken with the ladies too. I was gobsmacked at the positive reactions from everyone!”

Iram became aware of the skydive through Connect UK, a fundraising group who have pledged to raise £20,000 for the hospice this year. She added that support for their skydive has been far-reaching: “We’ve been so overwhelmed with the pledges and messages from all over the country, and the world! Most of the donations have come from people I know but some have been from strangers who have seen what we’re doing and want to help. I’m so happy with what I’ve raised already in a short space of time.”

Connect UK Chairman Cllr Salim Sidat said that the group are very grateful for all the support they’ve received so far: “We are very happy that many businesses and individuals are supporting us and East Lancashire Hospice. A very big thank you to Shaheen for his generous donation. The skydive is just one of many events we have planned to raise funds and awareness of the hospice. More details can be found at our website connectuk.­org.­uk.”

Shaheen said he’s become unexpectedly well-known for his kind act: “I’ve been getting praise from everywhere. I’m so glad I did it. It was an honour to help Iram and the least I could do knowing what she has signed up for.”

In just over a week Iram has raised £700 and Lois £550. They will join the team of around a dozen brave fundraisers from the Connect UK group who will take the plunge on Sunday July 26. To sponsor Iram go to https://­www.­justgiving.­com/­Iram-Esa/