A COMMUNITY dedicated to fulfilling the dying wishes of a popular grandmother is planning a fundraising event in her honour.
Described by friends as "loving, warm and kind", 54-year-old Gill Lee has had ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) for the past seven years.
Most days the debilitating illness confines her to her Helston Gardens home in Whitley, plaguing her with severe fatigue, painful muscles and frequently disrupted sleep.
But that was pushed into the shadows three weeks ago when, following an MRI scan, the mother-of-three was diagnosed with terminal bowel and lung cancer and given just six months to live.
Close friend Samantha Kay Lee said: "I'm still in complete shock. Everyone's just keeping themselves busy and they all seem to be really calm and collected, but there's obviously going to be a time when we all fall apart. Gill's one of those people who you turn to, she's always been there. She's a very Christian lady as well and very motherly. There isn't a person in Whitley who doesn't know her."
Last year Samantha became a reborn doll artist, hand painting life-like baby dolls, and created a Facebook page called "Reborn Collectors", from which Gill takes great comfort on her tougher days. Since hearing the devastating news, support from the group's members has been pouring in. Within four days the page received over 1,000 likes. It has also raised more than £1,200 from people auctioning off items to help fulfil Gill's final wishes.
Her "wish list" includes visiting family in Germany, taking a river trip on the Caversham Princess, having tea at The Ritz and seeing Les Misérables in the West End before she gets too ill.
Samantha said: "We want to raise as much as we can and there's already money coming in from total strangers all over the world who've never even met Gill - how amazing is that?
"I know all the money in the world is not going to save her, but I can give her the wishes she wants and help the family with funeral costs with the money that's left.
"The whole community has really pulled together to help give Gill what she wants. This truly beautiful lady is going to die leaving children, grandchildren and a community that loves her."
The 33-year-old is hoping that she will be able to help raise even more cash at a "Make A Wish Fun Day", organised with The Sportsman Pub, in Shinfield Road, and St Barnabas Church.
It will take place on Saturday at 3pm and includes a hog roast, Bon Jovi tribute band and a host of games to encourage people to donate money.
For more on the event, see www.facebook.com/#%21/events/395384377188012/