Harris + Hoole coffee shop on the corner of Hart Street and Duke Street are collecting Christmas gifts for the John Radcliffe Hospital Children’s Cancer Ward where 3 year-old Elara Foxley (pictured above) was treated before sadly passing in March 2021 and raising money for little Elliott who attends Sacred Heart School who has been diagnosed with a rare soft tissue sarcoma.
Manager at Harris + Hoole, Tami Rooke said, “I live on the same road as Elara’s family and I got the pleasure of meeting Elara while she bravely fought her cancer. She was always smiling and happy, we wanted to do all we could to support Elara and her Mum Nicky and with Elliott’s cause being so remindful of Elara’s battle we want to also support Elliott and his family as much as we can. By creating #operationelarasmile it keeps Elara’s memory alive and helps support Nicky by supporting the John Radcliffe Children’s Cancer Ward as I know that’s where she feels closest to Elara especially at Christmas.”
At the Christmas Festival tomorrow (Friday 25 November) night, an area of the shop will be converted into a Santa’s grotto where children can bring in a gift (small toys, books or puzzles) and put it under the giving tree. Santa will give them a “good list” certificate and a gingerbread man. A hot-chocolate elf creation station will be set up where people can add whipped cream, marshmallows and sprinkles for a donation to Elliott’s appeal. Gifts can be continued to be dropped off at Harris + Hoole until Friday 23 December.
Nicky said, “Elara spent Christmas Day in hospital in 2019 as she was in the middle of having her second round of chemotherapy. In the build up to Christmas with Elara being in hospital I was understandably not really prepared and having people coming with gift bags for both her and I made all the difference. It was incredible. Elara’s face lit up when she saw the gifts and it was contagious and magical. Given the circumstances, it injected that Christmas magic to celebrate and keep it as normal as possible was a lovely treat. It was so heart-warming for people to support us in that way. Tami and her husband have been ever so supportive including a Harris + Hoole bake sale last year to raise funds. When Tami came up with the idea of a reverse Santa giving I thought it was incredibly kind. I will be going to the hospital again on Christmas Day and taking gifts as I did last year. It’s great to facilitate this and will give me some focus on what is a very difficult and hard time of year. I’ve lived in Henley for a few years now and I just know the community will come together and make such a difference.”