Autographs go under the hammer as Hornchurch woman raises cash for Scleroderma Society
A Hornchurch teacher battling a rare disease that hardens her skin and muscles has gathered 60 famous names to help her sign a cheque for charity.
Hollie Thorman, 24, who suffers from scleroderma, has collected autographs from screen, stage and music stars, plus big names in business and politics, to auction for the Scleroderma Society. The charity supports those living with the illness.
Among Hollie’s famous friends are deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, Dame Judi Dench, Harry Potter actors Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, Romford singer Jessie J, businessmen Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar, and cast members from EastEnders and Coronation Street.
“I decided to do some fundraising while I was in hospital,” said the literacy teacher, of Risings Terrace, “but I didn’t want to do a sponsored walk or anything. I wanted to do something of my own.
“I was only aiming to get about 20 autographs but the response has been overwhelming.”
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Hollie’s condition was diagnosed in 2007. “At first I started to get scars all over my back,” she explained. “They looked like burn scars and doctors didn’t really know what it was.
“I went to dermatology at Queen’s and then Royal London, but eventually they realised it went deeper.
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“It’s starting to affect my mobility now – it’s turning my back hard.”
Treatment slows down the illness rather than curing it – but Hollie says her fundraising efforts have helped her come to terms with her condition.
“You might think of this as dwelling on the illness, but it’s helped me distance myself from it,” she said.
“I’m channelling the negative energy into something positive.”
One autograph is particularly special to Hollie, who has covered all framing costs herself and hopes to raise �1000 from the auction.
“My favourite is [Glastonbury festival founder] Michael Eavis,” she said. “I’ll be bidding on that one.
“He wrote a very emotional personal note with the autograph saying that I shouldn’t let anything stop what I wanted to do in life.”
Hollie’s auction will take place on October 13 from 7pm to 11pm at Rainham Social Club, Upminster Road South. Tickets are �5 on the door, or free for under-10s.