AS the first anniversary of her mum's death loomed, Jess Phippard was determined to turn a sad time into something positive.
The 26-year-old got her girlfriends together and snapped a selfie blowing a kiss to her beloved mum, Julie, who lost her battle with cancer last April.
But now the girls have been joined by hundreds of strangers puckering up from as far as Australia after their campaign ‘Pout for Mama P’ has gone global and has raised more than £2,300 for Cancer Research UK.
Jess, says: “I just can’t believe the response – it’s been crazy! I have been so overwhelmed.
“I feel really proud we have achieved something so positive. For me, rather than feeling really sad and down it was important to make something good of a bad situation.”
Jess, an events manager at The Orange Rooms in Southampton, said the idea came after seeing the success of the ‘no make-up selfie’ where women posing to the lens bare faced raised £8m for the cancer charity in just six days.
Jess explains: “I was so impressed how that took off and when I was chatting to my group of girlfriends about my mum’s birthday and the anniversary coming up, I was really determined to do something positive to commemorate mum and help others on a more local level – and we thought why not Pout for Mama P, to blow kisses to her?
“The idea is for people to take a selfie with their best pout, attach the hashtag Poutformamap and text a donation to a number we set up.
“We spread the word on Facebook and soon everyone was joining in from people with babies, to families with dogs – even my grandad and my grandma posted a selfie!”
Within days Jess said pictures came in from as far as Italy, America and Australia raising hundreds of pounds in honour of her mum.
Julie, who was a civil servant for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, was diagnosed with breast cancer, which went into remission. However the breast cancer returned and spread to her lungs, kidney and lower spine eventually spreading to her brain.
Jess with her mother, Julie
“It happened so quickly, her cancer became very aggressive,” says Jess, a former University of Southampton and Taunton's College student.
“Towards the end she wasn’t the mum I remember, the last few months were very hard.”
The campaign was a way for Jess, her brother Matthew, dad Richard, from Sholing, and the rest of the family to get through the first year anniversary.
Jess explains: “Mum truly was my best friend – she was the most amazing selfless person I have ever met.
She was very much a doer. She lived life to the full and put everyone before herself.
“She almost seemed unbeatable.
“She’d have hated everyone to be sad and it did lift us that we were doing something amazing.
“There were some really funny pictures with boys wearing make-up and my great auntie’s was hilarious – you couldn’t help to giggle.
“We were all focusing on this really crazy thing so we didn’t have chance to feel sad.
“It also encouraged us to talk about it because the fact is cancer is scary and some people didn’t realise I lost my mum, so it is good to be able to talk and raise awareness.”
Jess, who said she hopes to arrange a fundraiser every year, added: “People have still got time to perfect their pout for Mama P so please take part.
“It is too late for my mum now, but it”s not too late for other people. There is still so much we can do and to make a difference to just one family would be amazing.”
Helen Johnstone, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in Hampshire, said: “Jess has come up with a fabulous idea to take the popular selfies trend one step – or a pout – further in memory of her mum. Raising more than £2,000 in such a short time is awesome.
“The money raised by Jess will help support more than 200 clinical trials looking for better and kinder treatments for all types of cancer.
“I am always touched when I hear about people who have lost loved ones to the disease doing something special to help others.” To support the campaign search Pout for Mama P on Facebook or go to: justgiving.com /owneremail/ pleasesponsor /Jessica-Phippard