South Shields girls win award for raising awareness of disease which killed their dad

Sophie and Emily Mackerill.
Sophie and Emily Mackerill.
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Two girls who lost their father to skin cancer have been recognised at a prestigious award ceremony for raising awareness of the killer disease.

Emily and Sophie Mackerill were left heartbroken when dad Paul died in August after a four-year battle with cancer, aged 52.

Paul Mackerill with wife Helen and their two children.

Paul Mackerill with wife Helen and their two children.

Together with their mum Helen, they have been raising awareness of the disease, urging friends and family to be more aware of the danger signs.

They have also set themselves a challenge of raising £10,000 for St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow.

In recognition of their work, Emily, 14, and Sophie, nine, were invited to the FACT Cancer Support Awards ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in Gateshead, where they were presented with a certificate.

Mrs Mackerill, from Rydal Gardens, South Shields, said: “The girls are doing the best they can be, it is still early days as it’s only been 15 weeks since their dad died.

“Christmas is going to be hard for all of us. I am so proud they were recognised for the work they have been doing raising awareness of skin cancer – it really was such a proud moment for me, and their dad would be proud of them too.”

The family are now preparing to take part in their first Boxing Day dip for St Clare’s Hospice.

The girls and their mum will be part of a 32-strong crowd who will be dressing as Bob the Builder in memory of self-employed builder Paul.

They will join other Boxing Day dippers at noon by the Crabshack in South Shields.

Mrs Mackerill added: “We wanted to do something in Paul’s memory for Christmas and also raise funds for St Clare’s Hospice.

“None of us have done this before, we’re all a bit nervous about going into the water but I’m sure the atmosphere will be great.”

Money raised through the Boxing Day dip will go towards the £10,000 total the family are hoping to raise in Paul’s memory.

Since his death they have already raised more than £3,000.

Speaking soon after his death, Mrs Mackerill said: “There needs to be more awareness around the sun protection factor as a lot of people don’t understand it.

“I would love to go into schools and raise awareness to young people of how important it is to take care of themselves in the sun and also for parents to ensure they use the highest sun factor for their children.

“We knew Paul’s cancer was terminal, but watching your husband die over a year, you can never prepare for that.

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has been there for us and to everyone who has donated and taken part in our events over the year.”

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/Helen-mackerill1 choose St Clares