Independent on Sunday's Happy List 2014 (NOT the Rich List): Carmel Allen and Josephine Drew, charity founders


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The Independent Online

Carmel Allen's daughter Josephine was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was just two years old. Carmel had known something was wrong with her daughter for more than a year. Josephine, or JoJo as she is known, would barely make a noise.

"I would see tears rolling down her baby cheeks, but no sound came from her mouth. It was so distressing," she remembers.

Her child, she learnt, had a stage 3 neuroblastoma tumour squashed against her windpipe, obstructing her breathing. To increase the oxygen supply, she was given a tracheostomy at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital and underwent two rounds of chemotherapy. Finally, during an eight hour operation, the tumour was removed.

Josephine survived. But in 2004 Carmel created Kiss It Better "to turn Josephine's experience into something positive" and raise funds for research into childhood cancer, in particular paediatric oncology. The name came from how, during Josephine's illness, "whenever she was visibly upset I'd say, "Kiss it better."'

Carmel founded the institution as during the course of her daughter's illness she realised that just 3 percent of money raised to fight cancer went to these areas. One in 500 children under the age of 15 will develop cancer each year, which equates to around 1600 new cases each year.


A previous director at InStyle and the health and beauty editor at Vogue, she co-founded the charity with the support of not only Great Ormond Street but Estee Lauder. With the help of that company, and also with Clinique, she created a lipstick with the profits going to research for children cancer treatments.

Clinique also now makes a special, limited-edition product every year with House of Fraser, with half the profits going straight to Kiss It Better. "Every woman has a lipstick," Mrs Allen said. "This way she could treat herself or a friend to one and help others by doing so."

"I've had so much support from everyone," she explained, "the girls who work on the counter, the glossy magazines, the industry. They've all been raising money. It's not just the product." The two thousand women who work on Clinique counters across the country have raised more than £45,000 through events such as triathlons, climbing mountains and holding cake sales.

Josephine, now aged 12, helps her mother with the fund-raising by designing cards, and even spoke at a recent Clinique conference. The money that had been raised "makes me happy," she told those present, as it meant those who had been as ill as she once was would have a greater chance of getting better too.

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Robert Williams, kindness giver
Dolly Saville, legendary barmaid
Martin Griffiths, surgeon/lecturer
Jean Bishop, buzzing fundraiser
Aneeta Prem, anti-slavery campaigner
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