"The reaction from people to their photographs has been overwhelmingly positive and it feels great to have captured so many happy memories. "
Lian Cunliffe, The Snapper Photography
After the death of her best friend from teenage bone cancer, Lian Cunliffe knows only too well the importance of having positive memories during the most difficult of times.
For six weeks throughout the lockdown, sales manager Lian, picked up her camera and started taking photographs - adhering to government guidelines - of her friends and family on the doorsteps outside their homes.
Soon other local Salford families were asking her to take their pictures. They too wanted a keepsake of their own happy memories of time spent at together at home; marking a special birthday or even a marriage proposal.
Lian said: “I invited people to be part of history, I thought rather than make a charge for the portraits I would ask for donations to Francis House, the children’s hospice that brought so much joy to my friend Sam towards the end of her life.”
Francis House cared for Samantha Lillico and her family until her death in 2004, aged just 16.
“Sam and I were best friends at school. She was a beautiful girl who lit up the room, she was confident and kind, loud and considerate, funny, and polite, loving, and strong.
“When she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, she was so brave. She had a lot of pain but tried to live life to the full.
“Francis House supported her and her family in so many ways. The staff were kind, caring and friendly. When she died, they made a sad time that little bit easier.
“In these uncertain times, I wanted to do my bit to help as well as cheer people up. When I took the portraits, I encouraged people to wear something colourful, include their pets and have some fun whilst still isolating.
“The reaction from people to their photographs has been overwhelmingly positive and it feels great to have captured so many happy memories,” said Lian.
Lian supplied the images digitally before posting the portraits on her Facebook page The Snapper Photography.
Lian said: “I still remember how much joy being at Francis House gave Sam towards the end of her time with us. The love of the staff continues to play over in my mind all these years later.
“I miss her very much and nothing will ever do her justice, but hopefully these funds will help another little girl or boy who is currently struggling.”
During the Doorstep Portrait project, Lian has completed 250 photo shoots and raised £3,620 plus Gift Aid for Francis House.
“Thank you to Sam’s family and everyone who has been involved in the portrait project and thank you to Francis House for all the hard work that they are doing,” added Lian.
Based in Didsbury, Francis House provides respite care and support to the families of children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.
During the Covid-19 pandemic as most hospice families continue to shield their vulnerable children at home, the hospice is providing social emergency respite care to families exhausted from providing round the clock care. The hospice has also increased its telephone support and remains available for end of life care.
Karen Flower of Francis House Children’s Hospice said: “Not only has Lian raised an incredible amount of money for the hospice, she has selflessly given weeks of her time making other people happy during this incredibly difficult period in all of our lives. The photographs she has taken will be cherished forever. On behalf of Francis House and the families that we care for, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Lian and to the family of Samantha for enabling her story to be told.”
More information on Francis House can be found at www.francishouse.org.uk