Billy Ocean helps Gosport mum raise £10,000

(l''-r): Sharon Hillan from Gosport, with Sam Gwyn-Griffiths, Billy Ocean, Linda Arnold and Abby Garner
(l''-r): Sharon Hillan from Gosport, with Sam Gwyn-Griffiths, Billy Ocean, Linda Arnold and Abby Garner
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Back row, Scott Ware, Colin England, Keith and Karen Thripp, Pete Glover. Front row, Zoe England with children Alyssa, Kimberly and Kealie ''Picture: Keith Woodland

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WHEN Sharon Hillan and Georgina Hiller set up a fundraising coffee morning they expected to raise a few hundred pounds.

But little did they expect a ringing endorsement from pop star Billy Ocean.

The 1980s icon went along and posed for pictures and offered a signed shirt for auction helping the stunned friends eventually raise £10,000.

Sharon and Georgina were among a group of friends who hoped to boost the coffers of Macmillan Cancer Care.

But the fundraiser took on a life of its own when the chums asked Bunn Leisure Holiday Park, West Sussex, where they each own a caravan, whether they could use a few tables at one of its entertainment venues to host the event.

Staff offered their support and helped spread the word among owners and holidaymakers.

Then Billy Ocean, who was performing at the park, stepped in and gave his support.

Sharon, 43, of Franklin Road, Gosport, who regularly visits the family caravan with husband Paul and children Olivia, 15, Kian, 11 and Ellise, 10, said: ‘I expected to do a coffee morning with a few cakes and raise around £500.

‘We just couldn’t believe it when the money kept going up and up – we were texting each other saying can you believe this is happening.

‘The big hit for us was Billy Ocean supporting us.

‘He was so lovely and it really kick-started everything.

‘It was very humbling because everyone we met had a connection with cancer in some way and there was no-one who wasn’t happy to help in some way.’

Sharon was motivated to raise money for the charity after she lost her dad Malcolm to lung cancer nine years ago.

She said: ‘He was diagnosed and died within three weeks.

‘So anything that we can do to support cancer charities, we will do. It just motivated me.’

Abby Garner, of Redhill, Surrey, who led the fundraising group, said: ‘We were stunned that from such a small beginning we had raised so much.

‘I would like to thank each and every person who did something to make this happen.’

John Bunn, managing director of Bunn Leisure Holiday Park, said: ‘I’m delighted the team has raised so much and pleased we were able to support those who put so much energy and effort into this extraordinary fundraiser.’