A FORMER Haslemere Hospital healthcare assistant, forced to give up her dream of nursing after being diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease, has raised £2,500 for charity by holding a glamorous ball.
Mother-of-two Gemma Woodall better known as Gems, is now less than £2,000 away from her target of raising a staggering £10,000 this year for Muscular Dystrophy UK.
She and her brother Dan Godfrey, 35, have both been diagnosed with limb girdle muscular dystrophy, a progressive illness which causes weakness in the arms and legs.
Gems raises funds for the charity via her own fashion and beauty magazine, where all profits from sales go straight towards funding vital research for potential treatments.
She set up Creative Portrait two years ago after she found herself confined to her bed and in constant pain because of her condition.
She wanted to remain in the creative field and realised she could raise much-needed funds through sales of the magazine, which she puts together from her home. It now has thousands of readers worldwide.
The magazine has already raised £5,682 for Muscular Dystrophy UK and the ball raised an additional £2,585.
She has set a target to raise £10,000 for the charity by the end of this year.
A passionate campaigner for increasing diversity in the beauty and fashion industry, Gemma said: “We are only into March and we have hit over £8,000.
“I am so very excited to know we will smash our target this year and help raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK.
“When I can’t move or sit up or eat independently, it gets me through those hard times, knowing that I am achieving my goals in life, regardless of the position I have found myself in due to my diagnosis.”
The ball, held at Guildford’s Holiday Inn, was the first of Creative Portrait magazine’s annual fundraising events. Next year there will be a fashion show for the first time.
Dan, who is a talented musician, attended the ball in support of his sister and performed a few songs
Gemma, from Chiddingfold, added: “To perform at the ball was a huge deal for Dan, as his arms are much weaker now.
“If he pushes himself too hard, he really does pay for it. I am so proud of Dan for all he has endured and his fighting spirit.
The charity’s South East development manager Anneke Liefting said: “The way in which Gems uses her creative talents to raise money is truly incredible.
She put a huge amount of hard work into making the ball a success, even when it meant there were days when she was fatigued due to her muscular dystrophy. Despite this, she kept on going – she is, quite frankly, an unstoppable force of nature.
“We’re very grateful to Gems and her brother Dan for all their support.”