A charity set up after two friends were shot and killed while on holiday is celebrating three years of raising funds for community causes.
Liz Clare, 28, who grew up in Baston, was one of a group of friends to set up Always A Chance in September 2011.
The charity was launched to help prevent violent crime after James Kouzaris, 24, and James Cooper, 25, were shot and killed after taking the wrong turn into a Florida neighbourhood in April that year.
Liz, who runs Cell Regeneration in Tinwell with younger brother Charles, dated James Kouzaris, of Northampton, for three years while she was studying at the University of Leeds and he was at the University of Sheffield.
Three years on from the tragic shooting Liz is busy promoting the second Always A Chance ball, which will take place at Whittlebury Hall near Northampton on March 29.
She remembers how the idea for the charity was formed in the days after James’ death. She said: “There was quite a lot of press coverage at the time because of what had happened. The question of why the boys were there caused a lot of commotion.
“The press were really trying to get on the back of the families. They were camping outside houses and I had people trying to contact me.
“The families didn’t want to talk. But we thought as friends we should put out a press release. We put together a statement which was quite therapeutic to do.
“We started thinking how the boys would always say there was always a chance we would meet up at weekends, even though we were spread out. We had the funerals coming up and wondered where we would give any donations to. We decided to start our own charity.”
Always A Chance was initially formed with the aim of working with organisations that help combat violent crime. Shawn Tyson was just a teenager when he shot and killed the two friends in Florida. He is currently serving two life sentences for his crime, and those who formed Always A Chance hoped to help organisations that tried to prevent similar situations happening.
But the charity’s remit has expanded to include any group that does positive work within the community.
Examples include Samm Abroad, which helps people in the UK whose loved ones are the victims of murder or manslaughter. And closer to home, Northamptonshire-based Jam In The Hood, which aims to bring young people and the police and partner agencies closer together.
Liz has seen first-hand the good work many of these organisations carry out. She said: “We raise money to give to other organisations. It doesn’t have to be in the local area. If people have got a cause then we are more than happy to help.
“It’s amazing for us. Every time we do it we think of the boys. Then when we hand over the money, we have been a part of it but we are also leaving them a legacy.
“It’s great for their families. It’s not just about preventing violent crime, it’s also about giving support. Some people just don’t have those support networks.”
For Liz and everyone else connected with Always A Chance, this year’s ball will be a time to reflect on the last three years. Liz said: “It’s for us to remember the boys and it’s a great excuse to get together. Even though they are not here it’s all down to them.”
Tickets are £50, which includes entertainment throughout the evening, a three-course meal and welcome drinks. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.