Swindon schoolgirl urges people to give up clothes for cancer research

By Jessica Durston - 14 September 2021


Avaya Powell is encouraging members of the public to donate unwanted clothing items to their local TK Maxx store to help fund Cancer Research UK.

  • Avaya and her sister Elodie

    Avaya and her sister Elodie

Six-year-old Avaya Powell, who suffers from a rare form of cancer, is backing TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, in support of Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.

This campaign is part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Avaya and her eight-year-old sister Elodie, who attend Orchid Vale Primary school in North Swindon, are encouraging the public to donate any pre-loved quality fashion and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store. 

When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could raise up to £25 to help fund research into children’s and young people’s cancers.

Avaya was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January 2020. This is a cancer which affects around 100 children each year in the UK.

It has been a long journey of hospital stays for the six-year-old. Undergoing chemotherapy and stem cell transplants at both the Royal Marsden hospital in London and the John Radcliffe in Oxford has meant time away from her family.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops in the nerve cells and with Avaya’s tumour wrapped around her major blood vessels and her kidneys, mum Laura says she is waiting to hear from one of the top surgeons at Southampton University Hospital, to see if it is possible to operate.

She said: “We have been told it may be too difficult to operate due to the complexity of the tumour. Even if 50 per cent of the tumour could be taken away, that may not be worth what is a risky operation for little reward.”

Avaya’s family say they understand all too well the importance of new discoveries and breakthroughs.

Laura added: “That’s why raising money for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is so vital. Having a good clear out at home to find clothes and things to donate, we hope our experience will inspire others across Wiltshire to do the same. Their unwanted items really could save lives.”

Alison Birkett, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People in the South West said: “We’re grateful to the Powell family for helping to raise awareness. Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects survivors often experience. So, it needs more research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good help to fund.

“We want to help ensure more people under the age of 25 in the South West and across the UK, survive cancer with a good quality of life. That’s why we hope as many people as possible will show their support and donate any quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store.”  

TK Maxx is the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s research into children’s and young people’s cancers. Since 2004, the retailer says it has raised over £37 million to help improve survival and reduce long-term side effects for under 25s.

Speaking on behalf of TK Maxx, Jo Murphy, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at TJX Europe, said: “We are incredibly grateful to our customers across Wiltshire for helping us to transform the items they no longer need into funds for life-saving research. Not only are they helping more children and young people survive cancer, they’re also reducing their environmental impact by giving their pre-loved items another lease of life.”

Give Up Clothes for Good is one of the UK’s longest running clothes collections. People can donate at any TK Maxx store, all year round.

Supporters can also help by wearing a gold ribbon badge – the awareness symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – available from Cancer Research UK shops and selected TK Maxx stores during September.

More information and donation options can be found online at cruk.org/childrenandyoungpeople.

A video about neuroblastoma can be found at https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/childrens-cancer/neuroblastoma/research

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