03:00PM, Monday 17 April 2017
From left, Sandy Slattery, from the East Berks MS society; Mario Sardo and his sister Concetta Gaster and Carmelo Sardo.
It's been dishing up some of Italy’s tastiest treats for almost half a century.
And on Saturday the Italian Continental Stores, in Denmark Street, Maidenhead, served up one of its biggest.
The shop awarded a giant Easter egg as the prize in a raffle which raised more than £750 for the MS Society.
The decision to give away the 4kg delicacy was inspired by the battle with the disease faced by Concetta Gaster, daughter of the business’ founder Mario Sardo.
Her brother Mario Sardo, who is the business’ retail operations manager, said: “My sister was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago and since then it’s got progressively worse.
“She’s had various treatments, some have worked, some haven’t.
“We’ve always collected for the MS Society, but this year I thought we would get a giant Easter egg and give that away for charity.”
He added: “This shop is very, very popular and the people who come here love it and they love the family and everything we’re about.
“We give a lot and they give a lot back – it’s very authentic.”
Concetta has been undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), a chemotherapy treatment which can halt the progress of multiple sclerosis (MS), although not reverse it.
After losing her hair, Mario posted a photo of her and her brother together on Facebook, saying she had always wanted to look like him, prompting a flood of interest in the contest.
Speaking at the prize draw, Concetta said: “I’m very emotional.
“My brother put the picture on Facebook and I didn’t know I knew so many people.”
The total collected was £766 and the prize was won by Milan Balogac, who runs Maidenhead-based Milan’s Limos, who asked that the Easter egg be passed on to the doctors treating Concetta.
Sandy Slattery, chairman of the East Berks MS Society, said: “She is a very brave woman to have her picture out there and to be doing this.
“The money will go towards our physiotherapy and transport services and as a branch we also like to give money to research every year – we give a minimum of about £5,000.
“Without research there’s no cure, but with it there’s hope.”
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