FRIENDLY fundraiser Ellie Lightowler handed out hundreds of hugs this weekend to raise cash in memory of her great uncle, who had motor neurone disease.
The 15-year-old student, from Pontefract, reached her cuddle target of hugging 200 people in one hour in Leeds on Saturday, and has so far raised £300 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Ellie’s uncle Ron Atchinson, from Ferrybridge, had the debilitating disease, which attacks the nervous system, and died in September last year, aged 62.
Ellie, of Hinton Close, said: “My uncle Ron was amazing, he was just lovely and would do anything for anyone,
“He was very independent and I saw him more or less every Friday when I would go round to my nan’s.
“He died last September and I decided I wanted to do something to raise money in his memory.
“I thought of doing the hugs because it’s a bit different and would stand out.
“I didn’t think it was going to be an easy challenge but I didn’t think it was going to be as difficult as it was.
“Some people just didn’t want a hug and that knocks you back a bit, but then there were other people who thought what I was doing was lovely.
“A lot of people think people from our generation do nothing and just sit around, so it felt really nice to show people that we can do things like this.
“It felt really good to be doing something for a special reason which will help other people.
“All my friends thought it was great what I was doing and sponsored me to complete the challenge.”
The King’s School pupil raised the cash through sponsorship and managed to raise further £30 with the help of her friends who bucket collected cash during the event.
Ellie’s proud mum Janet Coates said: “I think it’s fabulous what she has done. I didn’t think she would raise as much money as she has.
“I’m very proud of her because she’s done it all herself.”
Ellie and her family will be at Airedale Christmas lights switch on in the Square tonight (Thursday December 6) raising more cash for the charity.
Visit www.justgiving.com/Ellie-Lightowler to donate.