‘Let me adjust my crown and get my day started,’ was the Facebook post to Amy Uprichard on Thursday, May 21 - the day of her Irish Art Exhibition in aid of children’s cancer charities, at the Charles Gilmore Gallery.
And it was a fitting tribute too, for Amy’s determination in the face of acute myeloid leukaemia deserves recognition, and as star of this event she raised almost £14,000 for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund For Children and Clic Sargent.
The 18 year old’s defiance over the last two years has been inspirational. Refusing to give up her love of ballet, she played the lead role in a performance while still on cancer treatment and she also won a beauty pageant.
Amy praised Charles Gilmore, who approached her to offer her the use of his gallery for the event: “Charles was great and the people from the gallery are so generous and such lovely people.”
During October last year World Number One golfer Rory McIlroy had planted a good luck kiss on Amy’s cheek before she went into hospital and he hasn’t forgotten her - donating two of his winning 18 hole flags to her cause.
“Ten thousand pounds came in from Rory’s flags and I nearly had a heart attack,” said Amy. “People are just so willing to give when it’s for such a good cause.”
Amy was delighted with pieces that Mark Barclay, a nurse who looked after her through her fifth round of chemo and bone marrow transplant, had contributed.
“Mark used to paint many years ago, but gave up due to deteriorating eye-sight,” said Amy.
But with the exhibition coming up Mark had a change of heart, and working through headaches and eyestrain, produced two striking pieces inspired by Amy which proved ‘you don’t have to give up on life after all’. One piece was for Amy to keep and the other fetched £500.
“He was over the moon about it,” said Amy, “and was the life and soul of evening”.
Amy’s sister Hannah also showcased photographic work of images she had chosen to represent Amy’s journey.
“Being able to go out and meet people you’ve never met before and share a glass of wine with them - it was just a lovely, lovely evening. People have really come out of the woodwork to support these charities that really were a lifeline to me and my family when I was so ill.
“When complete strangers send you lovely wishes, it gives you a lift and more determination to win the fight.”