EastEnders’ Lola rises from the dead to dedicate her British Soap Award to Padbury charity

‘You deserve this’, she said
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EastEnders actress Danielle Harold has dedicated her British Soap Award to the local charity Brain Tumour Research and thanked its supporters for working with her.

Danielle, who played the part of terminally ill brain tumour patient Lola Pearce in the popular BBC One soap, won Best Leading Performer at the awards ceremony in Manchester, which aired on ITV last night (Tuesday).

Lola’s on-screen death, which left fans heartbroken, came just over a week ago.

Accepting the award, Danielle said: “This isn’t for me, this is definitely for every single person that’s worked with me along the way, that’s been directly affected by brain tumours. People who are suffering from brain tumours, their time is so precious to them and even more to me.”

Brain Tumour Research, founded by Padbury-based chief executive Sue Farrington Smith MBE, worked with EastEnders – which also won Best British Soap – to ensure its brain tumour storyline was portrayed as realistically and sensitively as possible.

As part of this, it introduced Danielle to bereaved Bedfordshire parents Yasmin Stannard and Khuram Liaquat, whose daughter, Amani Liaquat, died of a glioblastoma (GBM) in February 2022, and to Brain Tumour Research supporter Kylie Weatherby, from Norfolk, who is living with a terminal brain tumour diagnosis, and with whom she has since formed a close bond.

Danielle name-checked Kylie and blew her kisses from the award stage. She then concluded her acceptance speech by thanking the audience, and, holding her award in the air, said: “Brain Tumour Research, you deserve this.”

Danielle Harold played Lola Pearce on EastEndersDanielle Harold played Lola Pearce on EastEnders
Danielle Harold played Lola Pearce on EastEnders

Sue Castle-Smith, head of PR for Brain Tumour Research, which is now based in Milton Keynes, has worked with the BBC on the storyline since last summer.

She said: “Huge congratulations to Danielle and everyone at EastEnders for their sensitive portrayal of this harrowing story.

“We were pleased to help... It has been a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of this devastating disease.

“Lola’s story is sadly a reality for too many people. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. We’re determined to change this.”

Laura Smith and Sue Castle-Smith from MK-based Brain Tumour Research visited the EastEnders set to help outLaura Smith and Sue Castle-Smith from MK-based Brain Tumour Research visited the EastEnders set to help out
Laura Smith and Sue Castle-Smith from MK-based Brain Tumour Research visited the EastEnders set to help out

Kylie, a lifelong EastEnders fan, was diagnosed with a GBM – the same highly aggressive tumour as Danielle’s character – whilst pregnant with twins in May 2021.

She underwent surgery two weeks later, after delivering Luca and Malena by caesarean section at 37 weeks, and went on to have six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Sadly, she is now undergoing further chemo for a second brain tumour, discovered seven months ago.

The 34-year-old said: “Meeting Danielle was one of the happiest days of my life and our friendship means the world to me. I was so proud watching her accept the award last night and didn’t expect her to name me or Brain Tumour Research, but it’s lovely that she did."

Sue Castle-Smith of Brain Tumour Research with Danielle at BBC Studios in ElstreeSue Castle-Smith of Brain Tumour Research with Danielle at BBC Studios in Elstree
Sue Castle-Smith of Brain Tumour Research with Danielle at BBC Studios in Elstree

“Danielle truly deserved to win the award. She’s done amazingly well in her portrayal of Lola, and in helping to raise awareness of brain tumours.”

Amani, a Masters student and first-class honours law graduate from Luton, received her terminal diagnosis after collapsing at home on her 22nd birthday in April 2020.

She fought her diagnosis bravely for 22 months, fundraising and campaigning for Brain Tumour Research throughout, but sadly died last year at the age of 23.

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