Theresa May has high praise for dedicated Leona

Leona Rankin (right). INCR 10-703-CON
Leona Rankin (right). INCR 10-703-CON

A Coleraine woman who founded a charity to support people living with sarcoma in Northern Ireland has been honoured by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Leona Rankin lost her fiancée, Philip Wilson, to sarcoma after a 10-year fight with the disease. Inspired by his life she set up ‘The Boom Foundation’ to support specialised care in Northern Ireland.

Leona has raised £250,000, splitting funds across the Sarcoma UK charity and her own initiatives. She regularly runs support groups and information days.

Leona is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

In a personal letter to Leona, the Prime Minister said: “The Boom Foundation is changing the lives of hundreds of people living with sarcoma across Northern Ireland. Your tireless dedication to this cause is a wonderful tribute to Philip’s life.”

Leona, who is the 691st winner of the award which has been developed in partnership with the Points of Light programme in the USA, said: “I am truly overwhelmed at receiving the Point of Light award and am so grateful for the recognition that The Boom Foundation will receive from such a prestigious award.

“When The Boom Foundation was set up in 2013, my hope was that it would help patients in some small way and that gaps in the support system in Northern Ireland would be filled. Now, almost four years on, the charity has grown and has made a real difference to the lives of sarcoma patients, in a way that I could never have imagined.

“We are privileged to be working closely with health professionals in Northern Ireland which means that we provide support in the right way to patients and their families. Boom is a charity run by a team of four trustees and a small number of volunteers. In receiving this award, it acknowledges the incredible work that they each do in their own time and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support and for all those who fund raise and very kindly donate to Boom. Thank you once again for this honourable award.”