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The 12-year-old Costessey girl who’s determined to give up chocolate to do her bit for charity

PUBLISHED: 09:08 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:08 07 March 2014

Ellie Ray gave up chocolate for February to raise money for the Red Balloon Centre, for which her step dad Danny Moloney is very proud.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Ellie Ray gave up chocolate for February to raise money for the Red Balloon Centre, for which her step dad Danny Moloney is very proud. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

Lots of people are already struggling to cope with the cravings as they give up chocolate for Lent.

Ellie Ray gave up chocolate for February to raise money for the Red Balloon Centre, for which her step dad Danny Moloney is very proud.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Ellie Ray gave up chocolate for February to raise money for the Red Balloon Centre, for which her step dad Danny Moloney is very proud. Photo by Simon Finlay.

But a 12-year-old from Costessey has proved ditching the sweet delights is possible - and has raised more than £500 for charity.

Ellie Ray, of Bittern Road, Costessey, went without chocolate for the whole of February to collect cash for the Norwich Red Balloon Learner Centre, based on Earlham Road in Norwich.

The Red Balloon Learner Centre provides intensive care education for children, aged between nine and 18, who are unable to attend mainstream schools due to severe bullying, or who have suffered severe trauma such as a death of a parent, abuse or rape.

So far Ellie has raised £523.43 and said: “I feel really good that I’ve raised the money as now the centre can afford to buy things for the children.” When asked if she found giving up chocolate hard, she replied: “Not really. I didn’t even eat too much chocolate when I stopped the challenge.”

Ellie’s father Danny Moloney said: “I used to be a trustee at the Red Balloon Centre and I was also their chief fund-raiser. Unfortunately, due to time and work commitments, I was unable to do as much as I would have liked. Ellie had listened to my stories about the children that Red Balloon helps and decided to do something off her own back.

“She’s a real chocoholic, so decided that giving up chocolate for a whole month would be a great challenge. Her mum, Michelle, and I are extremely proud as it’s not often that children set out to really help other children.”

Angela Francis, from the Red Balloon Learner Centre, said: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic that someone her age is doing something to help others, especially by giving up chocolate. I’m not sure I could do it! We’re looking forward to inviting Ellie to the centre so she can come and see how her money is being spent.”

So, does Ellie plan to do any more fund-raising?

“I think so, but I’m not sure what my next challenge will be yet!”

Donations can be made until May 28 by visiting mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/norwichredballoon.

Chocolate is one of the most common things given up for Lent.

Lent is the period when Christians repent, pray and remember the 40 days and nights that Jesus spent in the desert, without food, being tempted by the devil.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday, and continues until Easter Day.

Traditionally, the church imposed a strict religious fast where people gave up all rich food, but today there are varying degrees to which Lent is observed.

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