|Photography by Clara Molden|
I am the second daughter of Debbie Phillips. Born on the 4th of August 1993, I am a ‘baby’ for my academic year and have always been fairly timid, perhaps because of my age and/or because of being the middle child.
When my mother was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer I was twelve and I don’t think that I fully appreciated how serious her illness was until her two month stay in hospital towards the end of 2008. Between then and her death, early in February of this year, I think that I have changed beyond recognition; my perspective on what is important in life has changed such that, although I still take my education seriously, I am now able to distance myself from the stress of deadlines and exams, and, thanks to this outlook, I have deepened all of my friendships and family ties, especially with my father.
The success of ‘Autumn’ and the thousands raised for the ‘Debbie Phillips Cervical Cancer Research Fund’ have opened my eyes to a new realm of purpose, and I am proud to have helped to raise so much money for this vital medical research ... and flattered to have been interviewed about it by four different news channels in one day! I am also, therefore, incredibly grateful for the resulting support that has been given to me and my family and to the Debbie Phillips Cervical Cancer Research Fund, especially over this initial really difficult period, as the process of the ‘Autumn Campaign’, requiring me to recount numerous times the death of my mother, has been emotionally tough to say the least. But, if I'm honest, I am mostly grateful to my mother who, with her incomparable intelligence and dedication, provided her children with the tools to carry on growing up through all of this in the way she would have wished.
Paolo Nutini's album ‘These Streets’ was my first non-girlie, real music album, and ‘Autumn’ struck me the first time I ever heard it with the lyric ‘you still live on in my father’s eyes’. This was so powerful even before my mother was diagnosed, but in the weeks running up to her death it was one of few comforts to me, and the act of singing it into my phone on the night of her death was ultimately a momentary escape which even now is difficult to explain. When Paolo heard my recording of it and invited me to watch him perform live, and meet him at his after-show party, I felt both further supported and rewarded. It was an honour to meet such a genuine person and his treatment of me really convinced me that it is possible to follow such a career without losing one’s values.
Looking to the future: for Debbie Fund I am planning to record some more songs and have co-written a song with Charlie Mole, which I am delighted with. (I am hoping to take a gap year to take a Higher Diploma course in Vocal Performance before going to university to study French and Ancient Greek (yes I am still a geek)).
Ultimately, Debbie Fund is one of a kind in the fight against Cervical Cancer as nowhere else in the world is research being undertaken to find a dedicated treatment. I want more than anything to play my part in saving at least one woman from the same fate as my lovely mummy. And so I hope that other people will also continue to support Debbie Fund for the sake of mothers, daughters, sisters and friends, everywhere.