Katie Cregeen
Katie Cregeen

Business contacts have rallied round to help make wishes come true for a brave little girl who is battling cancer for the second time.

Katie Cregeen, from Cannock, drew up a list of things she wanted to do and people she wanted to meet when she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the beginning of the year.

Family friend and BNI Century member Kelly Nation helped her compile the list as, having gone through breast cancer herself, she had an idea of what Katie was going through and wanted to ensure she had some positive memories to take away from an awful time.

“I wanted to help her because I kind of knew how it felt,” she said. “I knew how hard it could be, I wanted to make her smile and look back when she’s older and think ‘well it wasn’t all bad’.”

Katie’s treatment continued and her family and friends were delighted in July when she was able to ring a bell on her driveway to mark being given the all-clear. But they were devastated when just a month later the cancer returned.

Kelly, 41, said: “It was a huge relief when she was given the all-clear. But then in August she went back in because she had a temperature and it was back. She had to start again.”

Katie’s wish-list included meeting Lewis Hamilton and her favourite pop star Ariana Grande, making her own flavour of chocolate, recording her own song and having a bedroom makeover.

When lockdown struck, many of her wishes had to be put on hold, but when Kelly, who runs Personalised Nation with her husband Mat in Cannock, put out an appeal in the BNI Century group, she was astounded at the response.

One member David Warren, from Pest Free Solutions, organised tickets for Cadbury World and another member Dave Watson, from DW Motivation, organised a tour and chocolate-making experience for her.

Steve Saul, from events and memoriabilia company Route 39, donated a signed Ariana Grande display frame and Peter Higgs, BNI executive director, arranged a recording session at a studio.

Katie has also been sent a huge number of cards, gifts, presents and jewellery from members touched by her plight, especially when she had to spend her 10th birthday in hospital.

“One of the lowest points was when she found she had to spend her 10th birthday in hospital,” said Kelly. “That devastated her and now she’s worried about where she will get to spend Christmas. She lost her hair, got it back and has lost it again. These are things no child should have to go through.

“But she has been very resilient. She is a very caring child. She has been lifted by the gifts and her family have been blown away by the response. I wanted to help her see that people do not have to know you to care.

“We are a very family-orientated group. We’re about more than just business. I never in my wildest dreams expected this. I never expected to achieve what we have. We all joined because of business, but that’s not what keeps us together. BNI’s core value is ‘givers gain’ and people genuinely care.”

Peter Higgs, BNI executive director, thanked everyone for coming together to help with Kelly’s appeal for Katie.

“This is the power of a network like BNI,” he said. “We are like a family. Not by blood but by friendship. We all help each other out whenever needed and it goes much deeper than just business.”

Katie, who is best friends with Ruby, Kelly’s daughter, is now going through her second batch of treatment and is struggling more second time round, especially as she can only have one parent with her in hospital and cannot see her youngster sister Evie, seven.

Meanwhile Kelly’s mission to grant all of Katie’s wishes continues. Katie has been sent a goody bag from Mercedes, but she has not so far had a message from Ariana Grande and the bedroom makeover is still on the list to be achieved.

“I understand that Ariana is very busy and must be inundated with requests, but Katie is going through a really difficult time and just to say hi would make the world of difference.” said Kelly.

“It would make a poorly little girl very happy.”

Anyone who can help should contact Kelly by emailing kelly@personalised-nation.co.uk or calling 01543 677794.