TWO long-time close friends of the late Mrs Angela Sturgeon, a former Ilkley resident, remembered her with pride on Sunday when they revealed the reasoning behind St Margaret Church's decision to use this year's Christmas appeal to raise money for a charity with the quaint title A Bit of a Break.

Helen Pilling and Paula Hunt told the congregation how the fund was set up due to Angela's experience and inspiration.

Helen said: "At the end of 2011 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During her illness, she campaigned tirelessly, raising over £42,000 for cancer-related charities.

"She loved spending precious time away with her family and friends where she could have a break from hospitals and treatment, feel normal again and build lasting memories. Angela, mother of two, realised how difficult it is for families dealing with a terminal illness to plan ahead and book holidays as you do not know if you will be well enough to travel and, with a terminal diagnosis, you are unable to get insurance cover.

"She and her husband, Matthew, had been fortunate to have generous friends who had offered them and their two children the use of holiday properties when the accommodation had not been booked and this led to the idea for A bit of a Break."

Paula added: "Our help means that families can escape from it all for just one week and spend precious holiday time with loved ones, making lasting memories in beautiful places. The concept is simple yet compelling. From our small beginnings, based on favours from friends with holiday homes, we now have a model which works well and have 24 properties available to us, many through our partnership with Heart of the Lakes, a property agency in the Lake District, and also on the coast in Northumberland and Robin Hood’s Bay."

The charity currently receive referrals from Airedale General Hospital, Manorlands Hospice and the Carers’ Resource. The money raised currently covers the cost of the overheads of the stay in the property, for example cleaning, heating etc and travel expenses, if required.

The average cost of a break is in the region of £170 and each family is given a food hamper, which is currently generously donated by Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton.

Helen wound up their question-and-answer session with the Vicar, Canon Philip Gray, with a declaration of their aim to soften the blow of serious illness for sufferers and relatives alike.

"Our ambition as we grow is to extend our referral sources ever wider and to provide more breaks for more families. The support of St Margaret’s is so important to us continuing our work. We are very grateful to you all."

It's not only the cycling fraternity in this part of the world who will long remember the bubbly, dedicated, indomitable mother who took adversity in her stride and even helped her teammates to raise over £20,000 for charity while being treated for the ovarian cancer which killed her.