Terminally ill Sidmothian mum 'most inspirational'

PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 November 2013

Naomi Thomas. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 5498-50-11TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Naomi Thomas. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 5498-50-11TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

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A Sidmothian whose charity helps other terminally ill patients tie the knot has been named a national newspaper's Inspirational Woman of the Year.

In a story broken by the Herald, Naomi Thomas set up the Wishing Well Foundation after battling incurable breast cancer to marry her partner.

The mum-of-one was honoured at 10 Downing Street with a reception with Samantha Cameron before collecting her award from Sir Bruce Forsyth.

“It absolutely means everything – it’s lovely to be recognised, not just for myself but for my team as well,” said the 31-year-old as she collected the Daily Mail prize.

“The competition was very stiff today – they are amazing women. There are amazing women all over the world, so I’m just absolutely shocked.

She added: “I’ve got my husband and my son, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Naomi, whose family home is in Manstone Avenue, was first diagnosed with cancer in April 2009, just two days after getting engaged to partner Graham.

The next year, less than a week after her son, Devon, was born, the former wedding planner was told her condition was incurable.

Her treatment forced the couple to cancel their wedding, but when a friend helped them put it back together, Naomi realised she could do the same for others.

She set up the Wishing Well Foundation in 2012, and it now has a team of volunteers and Olympian Mary King as a patron.

Sir Bruce said: “This has been one of the most emotional nights I have ever been to.

“The women are so wonderful and everyone’s a winner.”

Sian Lloyd, his co-presenter, said: “The word ‘inspirational’ is used so frequently, but when you hear the stories you think these are the role models for our daughters.”

Judges had an ‘exceptionally difficult choice’ to decide between the finalists, who included Susan Belgrave, whose charity has helped 80,000 children improve their literacy skills, and dinner lady Jeanette Orrey MBE, who has worked to improve school meals across Britain.

Also in the finals were Janis Feely, who set up a counselling service for people with addictions, and Pat Rogers, who has been tackling youth violence.

The five finalists, selected from hundreds of extraordinary women nominated by Daily Mail readers, have all won an all-expenses paid trip to London, while Naomi has landed a £5,000 luxury holiday.

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