COSTA coffee lover Karen Lloyd’s family, friends and favourite baristas found strength in numbers as they backed the Adver’s 160 Appeal for Prospect Hospice in memory of the force of nature who touched the lives of everyone who crossed her path.
Mum-of-two Karen, from Freshbrook, died at Prospect Hospice on February 4, six months after being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She was just 51.
Her obsession with Costa’s hot drinks was notorious and even made international headlines when she was buried in a coffin sporting the brand’s logo.
In a final tribute to one of their most loyal customers, baristas at cafes across Swindon held raffles and encouraged donations for Prospect Hospice, the charity which cared for Karen in her final moments, and those closest to her, at a special fundraising day on Saturday.
Her husband, Alan, sons Harry and Eddie, close relatives and friends Dawn Stephens and Lynzi Barrett – all clad in pink – gathered Costa’s Next@Home branch in a bid to help the chain collect £1,500 towards the 160 Appeal – a campaign Karen would have backed without a second thought had she been alive, they said.
“She was very active and raised money for charity, partly to take her mind off her cancer,” said Dawn, Karen’s ‘special friend’ in more ways than one.
“She was afraid of losing her hair but she said ‘you know what? I’m going to shave off and make money for the hospital’s breast cancer unit’.
“I remember her waking up at the hospice. I said ‘Are you okay?’ and all she said was ‘how much money have I raised?’ “You can’t put into words what Karen was like. She was the happiest, loudest person and I could never be sad with her; she would just make me laugh.”
The 47-year-old from Highworth added: “In the end Prospect made Karen feel normal and that’s all she wanted. She didn’t want cancer to take over her life. The more we get people aware of the appeal for Prospect, the more we widen the net. It is a great cause.”
The Adver launched the 160 Appeal in February in a bid to collect £160,000 for Prospect Hospice by the end of the year.
Karen’s partner in crime, Lynzi Barrett, of Rodbourne Cheney, who accompanied her friend every step of the way following her diagnosis, said: “Prospect were so wonderful, not just to Karen but to her family. We never dreamed that they would bring us breakfast, but they did.
“And if Karen was here she would be going round all the coffee shops and making sure that money went into the pot for Prospect.
“She would be so chuffed if she knew her passing got people who don’t normally put their hands in their pockets to give to the appeal for Prospect.”
Alan, Karen’s husband, said he was determined to do anything he could to cast the spotlight on Prospect Hospice and the team who stopped at nothing to make his ‘Costa Karen’ as comfortable as possible under difficult circumstances.
“We just wanted to make people aware of Prospect and breast cancer,” said the 46-year-old. “We raised about £2,000 at her funeral and we are hoping to raise more than £1,500 today.
“Prospect have been brilliant and paying them back for what they have done is a nice thing to do.”
Matt Burt, manager of the Next@Home branch, who served Karen and Dawn more times than he could count, was delighted to head the fundraising day in honour of Karen.
“Staff at Costa shops have been really enthusiastic, especially at Havelock because Karen went there a lot,” he said.
“It is amazing how the team have got behind the raffle and fundraising for Karen. Dawn and Karen used to be regulars and every time they came in we would have a chat. It was a massive shock when she passed away. We are happy to back to 160 Appeal. Whatever we can do to help Prospect we will.”
To make a donation to Prospect visit www.prospect-hospice.net