Local mother Laura Farmer went through the unimaginable when her daughter Bibi was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma at the age of two. After coming to terms what this meant for Bibi's future, Laura, along with the rest of Bibi's family, are now raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for further treatment. The response from the Tottenham community has been amazing, with many local people and businesses offering their support in a variety of creative ways. Rachel Ho spoke to Laura found out more ahead a number of fundraiser events taking place through December.
Photo supplied: Laura Farmer with her daughters Bibi and Clara.
Where did you grow up and what did your parents do?
I grew up in Moseley, Birmingham and my parents were both teachers - Spanish (Mum) and Chemistry (Dad). I moved to London 15 years ago.
Describe your relationship to Tottenham.
I moved to Tottenham from Dalston about eight years ago with my husband, Tiago. But I didn’t fully get to know the area until I had my first baby and it was then that I realised how many generous, kind, creative and clever people there are in the area.
I’ve never lived anywhere with such a community feel before. Sure, the area has its problems but the locals are determined to fix them. There are people everywhere setting up groups, businesses, clubs, cafes, galleries - all to try and help others and the community.
People keep saying it’s the new Hackney/Dalston, but it’s so much more than that.
Tell us about your daughter Bibi and why you are fundraising for her?
Bibi’s a brilliant little girl. Independent, funny, naughty and silly. But when she was two and a half she suddenly got very clingy, started getting fevers constantly and then complaining about aching legs, arms and tummy. At first the doctors thought it was just a virus but then she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare form or childhood cancer, and our world fell apart.
Photo supplied: Bibi having treatment.
She’s been having very harsh treatment at GOSH for over a year now, and sadly it hasn’t cleared the disease. She’s currently on a clinical trial but the next steps would be expensive treatment abroad - which can cost over £200,000. So we’re fundraising with a brilliant charity, Solving Kid’s Cancer. And any money we don’t use for treatment will go towards research and helping other children.
The fundraising you are doing is very extensive and creative with lots of different projects and events happening in the local community - how did it all come about?
My sister Tessa, an artist who also lives in Tottenham, knows a lot of locals, so between us we started approaching people and businesses. It was quite nerve-wracking asking people for help, but we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone and the amount of things that have already been planned!
Our wonderful neighbour, Nora Mulready, organised a folk night at Jam in a Jar on Green Lanes in November, with some incredible local musicians.
We’re doing a stall at the lovely Tottenham Green Market on the 7th December, selling beautiful Christmas Decorations and doing a craft workshop for kids.
Photo supplied: Laura with Clara and Bibi.
Local businesses like Edible London have offered to supply food for the events, The Print Gallery on Green lanes has offered to print anything we need.
It’s just been incredible and very emotional (in a good way). People are amazing.
And it’s also done wonders for my social life - I’ve never had so many things to go to!
Obviously going through this experience would be extremely challenging for you as a mother and for your family. What has helped you to cope and do you have any advice for someone going through a similar experience?
Before we started fundraising, we didn’t tell many people about Bibi. Mainly because it was just very painful to talk about. Just saying the words 'my child has cancer' makes me sweat an unreasonable amount.
Fundraising forced us to share her story, and it was probably the best thing we’ve done.
People have offered to help in so many ways and it’s made us feel much less alone. Every time someone does something nice it makes me cry. The donations, messages and kindness shown by friends, locals, businesses and even complete strangers has definitely restored my faith in humans!
Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?
At the moment I’m training for a half marathon that a team of us are doing in February, dressed as Paw Patrol (Bibi's favourite cartoon. For now, at least!)
So my favourite thing is finding new urban routes to run around Tottenham and the surrounding areas. I’m discovering places I never knew existed!
Photo supplied: Laura with in Paw Patrol costume.
I may start doing the runs dressed in character in the New Year, so watch out for a very sweaty red-faced Chase running around the neighbourhood...
Anything you would like to add?
Just a huge, enormous, hard-to-put-into-words THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us so far on our journey! We love you all.
For more information about how to donate or get involved go to: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/beatriz