Community Hero, Martin Lawrence: Turning a negative to a positive

Charity founders Martin & Clynton with supporter Paul Merson.
Charity founders Martin & Clynton with supporter Paul Merson.

This week’s community hero is a selfless fundraiser who set up a charity with the help of his family and friends after his mother died of cancer.

Martin Lawrence, 34, and his close friend Clynton Johnson, 38, set up the Eve Merton Dreams Trust in 2011 in memory of Martin’s mum Eve, shortly after she lost her brave battle with the disease, at the age of 68.

Eve Merton

Eve Merton

Eve, received treatment at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire hopsital and Doncaster Royal Infirmary, after she was struck down with advanced level three ovarian cancer, in April 2009.

After a month of tests, scans, biopsies and numerous consultations, Eve was admitted into the Hallamshire for an operation to remove her ovaries and to remove the remaining tumour. The operation was a success and she responded well to chemotherapy, but in October, 2010, the cancer returned and sadly claimed her life the following January.

Since Eve died, the charity has grown from humble beginnings to helping people across the region, many who are treated at hospitals throughout Sheffield and in Doncaster.

Speaking about the registered Doncaster cancer charity, Martin said: “My mum was not a famous person by any means, she was a mother of four and hard-working Doncaster woman who spent 20-plus years working within the town’s famous market. Her story is unfortunately not an uncommon one, a doting grandmother much loved within her community struck down with cancer at a relatively young age.

“She was always willing to help others throughout South Yorkshire, whether it be shopping for elderly friends, running a Christmas savings club or just being a shoulder to cry on, Eve was always available. However, despite battling bravely Eve lost her battle with cancer on January 17 2011.”

The initial aim of the charity was simple – they wanted to help other local people who were going through the same condition and ill effects that Eve and her family did.

Martin added: “We wanted to use the grief of losing my mum and turn it into something positive.”

To do this they set about trying to build the charity from scratch and together fought for every single penny to officially register the charity with the Charity Commission (£5,000 in 12 months). Since then the charity has gone from strength to strength, amassing a team of dedicated volunteers.

Clynton said: “All of our amazing team juggle full time work and their families while giving up their spare time for free.”

That coupled with the fundraising support of Doncaster based companies such as OneCall Insurance, they have been able to raise just short of £300,000 to date.

They use those funds to answer a dream, grant a wish or do anything they can to bring a smile for both patient and family during a time they need it the most. To break the negative day-to-day impact that surrounds cancer and to help families create a lasting memory to cherish for years to come.

An example of these dreams included a hospital wedding for Stacey and Daniel Meachen – a couple determined to declare their love for each other despite their negative change in circumstances. Eves Trust was able to help make their wedding day special, changing a room provided at DRI into somewhere fit for a wedding celebration, providing flower arrangements as well as catering, balloons and the all important dresses and outfits.

This is just one of the dreams the charity has answered, since 2012 Eve’s Trust has answered dreams for up to 50 Doncaster based families. Those dreams have ranged from weddings to a dream break and family photograph for Marie Caygill, or a chance for Connor Steel to meet his footballing heroes and many more.

To continue their work, the charity needs ongoing support. On Saturday June 18 it will host its fourth annual “Charity Legends Football” event, where a team of local fundraisers, mostly made up of teachers representing their Doncaster school, will take on a team of footballing legends. That will run alongside a full “Family Fun Day” with rides and activities, characters and fun stalls, something for everyone. Go to {http://www.evestrust.co.uk/|Eve’s Trust or follow them via Facebook or @evestrust Twitter.