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A selfless bride-to-be has swapped her wedding list for a life-changing campaign in a bid to boost her friend's quality of life – after she was left with severe brain damage after eating a piece of chicken while on holiday.
Lindsey Bowers, 36, from London, says she doesn't want any wedding gifts but instead would like to help her former colleague Amy May Shead, who suffered a catastrophic allergic reaction to nuts in Budapest, Hungary.
The idea comes after Lindsey jokingly invited thousands of her Twitter followers to her wedding to fiancé Mark Constantine, 39, after she received a number of online RVSP's, so decided to invite them to a virtual fundraiser instead.
"It just seemed like a natural thing to do really," Lindsey told Daily Star. “I’m not actually the first one of Amy’s friends to have done this.
“So when we got engaged we thought why don’t we do the same thing?"
Amy, who was just 26 years old at the time, had managed her allergy all her life and even showed restaurant staff a card printed in the local language that explained she could have a serious reaction before the incident happened in 2014.
But after wrongly being reassured that her meal was safe to eat, her life tragically changed forever and suddenly, her family needed to help fund around-the-clock care without any compensation from the restaurant as businesses in Budapest do not have to pay liability insurance.
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The accident left Amy wheelchair-bound and unable to talk, walk, or see – but her family are still holding out hope, as they continue to support her through the Amy May Trust which they launched to help pay for her rehabilitation.
So far, Lindsey has raised thousands of pounds for the trust, which she says will go towards making her friend more comfortable and to help pay for expensive therapies.
She went on to say that her wedding will not only be used to raise money for Amy – but will also help raise awareness on the devastating impact of nut allergies.
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Speaking about Amy's condition, Lindsey told the Daily Star: "It completely, utterly changes your life perspective seeing someone that you are close to, go through something where she is still Amy but a different Amy.
"It’s been seven years since her accident and you never get used to it. I know her family still haven’t got used to it.
“I can see the pain in their eyes every time I visit them – that this has happened to their only daughter.
“It's just an absolute tragedy and we are lucky we still have her because we very nearly lost her."
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She added: “I’ve been getting lots of responses on Twitter – I had one woman reply to my thread to say her brother died at the age of 30 because he got an Indian takeaway and they used ground almond instead of flour and that took his life," Lindsey added.
“Even if just one restaurant owner sees this story and thinks wow we need to be more careful in our place of work…
"A lot of restaurants are careful I’m sure but because of the negligence in one in Budapest, this young girl's life was completely ruined."
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So far Lindsey has raised over £7000 for the trust, through the kindness of strangers online as well her former ITV colleagues such as Piers Morgan who donated an "extraordinarily generous" amount.
She said her wedding guests are likely to contribute to the fundraiser this weekend – on the day of the wedding on Saturday, September 18.
“The fundraiser has been sitting on the page for quite a while because we were supposed to get married last August – I hadn’t posted the link anywhere until last week," she said.
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“I would have been happy with £1000 by the time we got married.
“It’s just absolutely incredible – in my mind if we got to £10k that would be absolutely groundbreakingly brilliant.
“But where we are so far is so much more than we had hoped for in the first place."
The fundraiser reached £7,530.00 at the time of publishing, to donate visit here.
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