A local charity set up by the family and close friends of a young boy who has battled a rare form of childhood cancer is set to receive a boost after being nominated as The Mall Blackburn’s charity of the year.
Theo’s Warriors, which supports children and their families through their cancer diagnosis and beyond, was chosen from over 25 entries to become this year’s beneficiary after management were touched by their story.
The inspiration behind the charity is an eight-year-old from Blackburn, an extraordinary young man who was diagnosed with advanced neuroblastoma in 2015. He responded well to treatment and went into remission in December 2016.
His family and close friends raised more than £160,000 to take him to America to take part in medical trials to hopefully reduce the 80 per cent chance of the cancer returning. He will complete his treatment this year.
They wanted to give something back to the community after receiving excellent support from hospital staff, charities and the general public.
Janet Cottam, who is a Trustee for Theo’s Warriors and a close family friend, said: “When you are faced with something so terrible, the worst news in the world, you want to talk to other people who have been through it.
“We can give you hope and advice from our first hand experiences and after everything we went through, if there is anything at all we can do to help people then we want to do it.
“We have a 24 hour helpline for parents to call for advice or even just to chat. We can provide lots of other support including respite for the children and their families, toys, family days out and beanbags to help children who are in pain.
“We couldn’t believe it when we were shortlisted into the final three for The Mall’s Charity of the Year and to be chosen is a dream come true.
“Everyone has been so kind and helpful and we can’t wait to get cracking with fundraising events.”
Loraine Jones, General Manager at The Mall Blackburn, said: “The courage and strength shown by Theo and his family is so inspiring and we are looking forward to working very closely with them to raise awareness and funds.
“Of course, each and every application we receive is thoroughly deserving and I know I speak for the rest of my team when I say the hardest part of our job is to select just one.
“It is amazing to be working with such a wonderful local cause.”
The news comes as The Mall team presented outgoing Charity of the Year, Cash for Kids, with a cheque for over £3000.
Loraine continued: “We have really enjoyed working with Cash for Kids for the past 12 months and have been involved in some very exciting projects.
“I want to thank them for all their hard work and wish them luck!”
Nikki Thompson, Charity Manager at Cash For Kids, added: “We have really enjoyed working with everyone at The Mall Blackburn this year and their support has been invaluable.
“Mission Christmas was our most successful yet and we helped 16,274 children in Lancashire with over £777,000 worth of presents being donated at collection points including The Mall Blackburn.
“Now it is time to hand over the reigns to the next beneficiary, and we are delighted that The Mall has chosen Theo’s Warriors.”
Lancashire Mind, Nightsafe, Blackburn Youth Zone, Inbetweenears and East Lancashire Hospice have all previously been supported through the ‘Charity of the Year’ initiative.