A GROUP of friends are ready to mark 10 years since they lost a dear friend.

Hereford's Nicola Watson was 39 when she died from breast cancer in 2004.

Every year since her death, her family and friends have held a party to celebrate her life and raise money for local cancer charities. The total now stands at £22,000.

Sharon Pugh has helped organise the festivities and said that a big party seemed a fitting tribute to her friend.

Sharon, 59, said: "Nicola was very bubbly and loved a party. Even when she was ill she was upbeat and never felt sorry for herself.

"After Nicola's death a group of us did the Race for Life and at the start of the race there is a minute where everyone remembers their loved ones and it's very solemn. But that didn't feel right, and during the race we started to plan a party, and it has grown year on year."

More than 200 people attend the parties each year, with dancing, food, raffles and more taking place on the night.

Sharon, who works with Herefordshire Carers Support, said: "The atmosphere is just brilliant and it's what Nicola would have wanted. Local people and businesses always donate some fantastic raffle and lucky-dip prizes. We are always really humbled by their generosity.

"We like to give the money raised to a different cancer charity each year because there are so many we'd like to support."

This year's party will take place on March 7 at the Great Western Railway Staff Association (GWRSA) Club in Barton Yard.

To buy tickets, call Sharon on 01432 276187.