Buffet raises £800 for Tia - but family feel let down by supermarkets

Worcester News: Digging in and digging deep: Over 100 people showed up for the Thai buffet Digging in and digging deep: Over 100 people showed up for the Thai buffet

THE parents of a desperately ill toddler with two rare immune diseases were moved to tears by the generosity of friends and family at a fundraising buffet.

Nicholas and Yupa Pugh were overwhelmed after they opened up their Bath Road home for Tia's Thai Takeaway Buffet which raised over £800 towards the family's holiday in Newquay.

The desperately ill three-year-old's is believed to be the only person in the world to suffer with both STAT-1 deficiency as well as a tuberculosis-like illness called mycobacterium malmoense.

Two potential bone marrow donors have been found but the search has been difficult as Tia's father is British and her mother is a mixture of Thai and Cambodian.

After slaving for hours in the kitchen, over 100 people visited the family home to enjoy Mrs Pugh's cooking.

Mr Pugh said: "We just couldn't believe how popular it was.

"They just kept coming all throughout the day from all over the place.

"There were people who turned up who I hadn't seen in 20 years.

"I was trying to speak to everyone but there were so many people and we just didn't have time, it was really busy.

"When it had finished we sat down and had a cuddle.

"My wife felt really tired and a bit emotional from how many people turned up,

"The amount some people donated was shocking, I cried from their kindness."

Children's charity Matt's Mission had organised the trip to Newquay for the family after reading about Tia's plight on Facebook.

But while they have been touched by the community's support, the couple, who spent about £200 on food, felt let down by bigger supermarkets who told them they had to go through head office.

The couple had only a few days to organise the event after hitting upon the idea on Sunday evening after Tia returned from a stay in hospital in Newcastle.

While M&M Meats, St Swithin's Street, and Yum Yum Oriental Foods, St Nicholas Street, both donated food, supermarket chains Asda and Iceland told the couple they would have to go through the head office.

Both Asda and Iceland said they would have been happy to help but the family needed to go through the proper channels.

The family had visited the Asda on Monday (March 24) but were told the person they needed to speak to was not in and would call them.

When they did not receive a call, they returned to the store on Wednesday but were told Asda could not help.

Mr Pugh said: "I had to swallow my pride to ask if there was any way they could help so when I was turned down it was absolutely disheartening.

"I had to walk down the aisles because I was close to tears.

"I tried to explain that we didn't have time to contact head office and that we would be grateful for any kind of help they could give us.

"Even if it was just an onion it could have been used in one of the curries."

A spokeswoman for Asda said it tried to help communities in any way it could but, as it received hundreds of requests to support charitable causes every week, it asks for information in writing so every request can be treated fairly.

"We’re not trying to be bureaucratic or unhelpful and we’re really sorry that Mr Pugh felt let down by us on this occasion.

"If he’d like to talk to us about other opportunities to support his fundraising activity for Tia, we’d be happy to see where we can help.”

A spokeswoman for Iceland said it had a proud record of supporting good causes and had recently distributed £50,000 to local good causes chosen by store staff.

"We have great sympathy for Tia Pugh and her parents, however it is impractical for us to empower our store managers and staff to offer free products or discounts on request within the stores themselves, however worthy the cause for which our customers may be collecting."

• Bands will be performing at The Marr's Bar, Pierpoint Street, on Thursday, April 17 to raise awareness of the bone marrow donation register.

Staff from Anthony Nolan will be signing people aged from 18 to 30 years old from 6.30pm to 8pm with bands Heroes of Hanoi and Laszlo set to perform later in the night.

Admission will be £2 for everyone who has 'liked' the event on Facebook or £4 on the door with money going toward Tia.

For more information on the bone marrow registry log on to www.anthonynolan.org or www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow.

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