A SCHOOL worker from Sheffield who lost his young wife to cancer has set up a foundation in her name to help others.
Lee Ferrigon has even donated one of his kidneys to a friend as part of his efforts with family and friends to do something positive in memory of wife Keisha, who was 32.
“Keisha lived for others and we decided to do the same,” he said.
Doctors told the education manager last year that the pains in her stomach were due to an ulcer but weeks later they found a tumour.
Lee, an inclusion manager at Meadowhead School, responded to the tragedy by throwing himself into helping others, going so far as to donate a kidney to a friend.
“When Keisha was ill there was nothing I could do – I just had to watch,” he said. “But in this situation I was able to actually make a difference for a friend.”
Darren Ferguson, from Milton Keynes, had been having dialysis three or four times a week. Tests revealed Lee’s kidney was a match and he had the operation last August.
“It was a huge privilege. It was a big deal for him – Darren had been looking for a donor his whole life, 30 years.
“But for me it was a bigger deal to be able to do something. I don’t think he realises how important that was for me.”
Lee, of the Manor, said his Christian faith had helped him through the hard times. “Of course it’s been difficult. Having such wonderful friends has helped and my colleagues at Meadowhead have been amazing.
“On New Year’s Eve last year I was with Keisha’s sister, Kelly Anne. We both decided we would go into 2011 celebrating.”
The Keisha Ferrigon Foundation was set up to help communities in the Burngreave area, working with young people, promoting health programmes in schools and deprived areas and raising money for cancer charities.
A lead practitioner for the council’s multi-agency support team, Keisha helped to resolve welfare problems in the city’s schools.
Outside work, she put most of her time into her church, the Seventh-Day Adventist in Burngreave, and she ran outreach projects in Burngreave, including youth programmes and a health improvement scheme.
“Keisha was all about helping people – those in her church, those in difficulty and especially young people. She was an extremely strong woman – she certainly kept me in line!
“But she was approachable, she would give advice to everyone. And people took that advice because she was straight-talking. She was always so happy and bonny.”
Lee added: “The foundation is all about hope. It is about helping others who are in difficult places. This has been a hard year for me, and it is still very raw, but there is hope that I can do something positive.”
A fundraising gospel concert, New Hope, will be held at the Mercure St Paul’s Hotel, where the couple married, at 6.30pm on Sunday November 27, a year and a day after Keisha died.
The event is in aid of Sheffield charity PACT – Parents’ Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia. Tickets cost £10; to book, call 2724663.