July 20, 2024

Brave Bella, 6, inspires Phil’s close shave in aid of children’s hospital

Village Bakery ; Bella with her parents Shereice David and Wayne Jones, Phill Lancelotte with Village Bakery staff Kath Ashcroft, Robin Jones , Christina Craven, Simon Thorpe and Christien Jones . Picture Mandy Jones

A bakery “hero” shaved off his bushy beard in aid of a children’s hospital.

Phil Lancelotte, a driver at the Jones Village Bakery in Wrexham, was inspired to raise money for  Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool by the courage of the six year old daughter of workmate Wayne Jones.

Brave Bella has undergone two operations to remove a tennis ball sized tumour and the remaining cancerous cells from her neck.

Colleagues and friends have already chipped in with £425 while Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones and his brother, projects director Christien, are contributing £1,000.

Phil has a track record of raising money for good causes. Back in 2013 he was  honoured for his 30 years of service to a local charity, Wrexham Phab – Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied Club, when he was named as the company’s first Village Hero, an award set up to recognise effort or contribution of  employees.

He also goes back a long way with Wayne who joined the company straight from school aged 16, mentoring him and showing him the ropes.

Wayne is now the man in charge of crumpet production at the bakery – and he’s never forgotten the help he received from Phil.

But nothing prepared Wayne and Bella’s mum, Shereice David, for the worry they’ve endured for the past three years.

Problems first started to emerge when they found a small, rubbery lump on Bella’s neck.

Unfortunately, the cause was misdiagnosed for two years before it was finally established she was suffering two forms of cancer, Ganglia Neuro Blastoma and Neuro Blastoma which was found in the biopsy after the first surgery.

Wayne said: “The first surgery was in August last  year to remove the tumour which was obstructing her airways. It was a huge lump the size of a tennis ball inside her neck and her airway is now an L shape because it’s been bent by the tumour.

“Earlier this year they found something on her lymph nodes so she had to back into hospital for another surgery on her neck and they took away the lymph nodes in that area because they had found a trace of the cancer there, which they thought was left there from the previous operation.”

According to partner Shereice they’re taking things day by day and allowing Bella to just have fun and play with her friends as much as she can.

She said: “Alder Hey have helped us save Bella. Their surgeons are second to none – they did a fantastic job and the staff on the ward do a brilliant job too. They keep the kids motivated and uplifted and Bella made a lot of friends there.

“She had some tests done and the results are really good at the moment – we’re just waiting for one test result. She has to go now every three months to be tested.

“If the next one comes back and they’re still clear then I think we should be on a journey to remission. We’re keeping everything crossed.”

Wayne added: “I’ve always known Phil as a giving man and the fact that he is doing this for my daughter is extremely touching. He’s a fantastic guy. He’s had a lot of issues with his own health but he never stops caring about other people.

“The Village Bakery have been nothing but supportive. The minute they found out what I was going through we have had nothing but support.

“It’s been really nice knowing that no matter what’s going on at home, they have let me know that’s my priority – and that they’ve got my back. I’ve had incredible support from the Village Bakery.”

The beard had been a semi-permanent fixture on Phil’s chin for more than 30 years but it didn’t take much persuasion to get him to shave the hipster whiskers to raise money for Alder Hey.

He said: “The work Alder Hospital do in general for young children is amazing but I wanted to raise money for them in respect of the care they have given to Bella.

“Due to her having been diagnosed with Ganglio Neuro Blastoma cancer, she has needed to be treated there on many occasions. I just want to do my bit to help raise funds for the great work they do.

“I don’t have any kids so I can’t really imagine what Wayne and Shereice must be going through – it’s a real nightmare.

“I hope they’ve got it sorted and that Bella will grow up to be a lovely young lady.”

Managing director Robin Jones said everybody at the Village Bakery had been deeply touched by little Bella’s bravery.

He said: “We raised money for the family last year so they could go on holiday and they wanted a trampoline for Bella as well.

“Now is the time to give back to Alder Hey Hospital and that’s why Phil got involved because the Wayne and Shereice have been through hell. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

“But Bella is a brave little fighter and even today she’s full of beans and has smile that lights up the room. She’s a real giggler.

“It’s been a huge worry for Wayne – the last few years have been an emotional rollercoaster for him. He’s a great chap and we are proud to work with him.

“Wayne is one of the true Village People and he’s been with us a long time. We’ve supported him throughout and we’ll continue to do that.

“Phil’s been with us since 1985 – he was also my mentor when I first started. What he did with his beard shave was absolutely fantastic – he’s still the real deal when it comes to being a  Village Hero.”

Anybody wanting to contribute to the appeal can do so by going to the Go Fund Me page that’s been set up by Phil: https://gofund.me/ddd5e55a