CHARITY chiefs at a county childhood cancer cause have marked a poignant anniversary after celebrating five years in business.
The Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust was launched on June 22, 2016 in memory of Worcester youngster Grace Kelly who passed away in 2014 following a battle with a rare form of cancer.
The charity started with selling a few pin badges at the side of the road and it has grown from there.
While the cause is now older than Grace was before her young life was cut short, her legacy remains with more than £1.8million raised in her memory and that of other children too.
The vision of the trust was born from the inspiration Grace imparted on all the people she met.
Above all, Grace wanted to look after others before herself, and this is what the charity is determined to keep doing. Childhood cancer remains the number one medical cause of death of children in the UK.
Dr Jen Kelly, charity founder and Grace’s mum said: “Grace was a compassionate and caring little girl, who looked after others before herself.
“Above all, she wanted to take care of others before herself. The fifth birthday of the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust is a poignant milestone for the charity to reach because Grace never made it to her own.
“I do believe though Grace would be so proud of all she has helped to achieve, so we would like this to be a time the charity can reflect on all which has been we have achieved to date and all the families Grace’s legacy has helped to support.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has helped support us in any way. Childhood cancer remains the number one medical cause of death of children in the UK and we are determined to try and change this for the children of the future.”
“We would like to say a big thank you to all our Trustees, both past and present for their time and dedication to help the charity over the years.
“A special mention to our Chair of Trustees, Victoria Billings who has been there right from the start as a founding member of the charity.
“She has supported the charity and offered time and advice in so many ways since we started. Also, a big thank you to our employees, both past and present with mention to Michelle Nolan and Emma Williams for their incredible support and for all they do for the charity.
The charity needs to raise in excess of £250,000 a year to keep up its efforts and there are multiples ways local residents can show their support.
Visit www.gkcct.org for more.
The charity has shared with the Observer just some of its achievements in the past five years
Hand in Hand for Oscar
Towards the end of 2019, the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust helped to support Oscar Saxelby- Lee and his parents in their fundraising efforts to fund potentially life-saving treatment for Oscar in Singapore. Known locally as Hand in Hand for Oscar Appeal, it was incredible to see Worcestershire coming together behind Oscar, in the way they did. 18 months on Oscar is still cancer free and we are delighted to say is doing well.
Olivia Saxelby, Oscar’s mum said:
“The Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust has become a lifeline for us as a family: saving us, supporting us and helping us throughout the journey of Childhood Cancer and beyond. They have played an integral part in Oscar’s lifesaving treatment to which we are forever grateful for. To watch Oscar enjoy the smallest of things in life free from pain is the dream we once dreamt – but now look at him! Growing, enjoying, and experiencing the beauty of life as best he can!
We simply couldn’t thank the team and community that support this amazing charity enough. Grace’s legacy is one that we will admire and honour for the rest of our lives.”
To date, we have reached over 1.9 million people with our signs and symptoms awareness card image. Statistically, this will mean that we will have reached almost 4,000 families whose child with sadly receive a childhood cancer diagnosis in the coming years. We already know of 7 children we have helped directly from these cards.
Xavi was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (eye cancer) after his mother saw one of our awareness cards. It resulted in him being diagnosed with cancer at an earlier stage. His mum Rhiannon said, “We’re so thankful to that we were given an awareness card from the GKCCT. It meant that we didn’t delay in getting Xavi checked out when he displayed the first symptom of Retinoblastoma. A diagnosis at that point made sure that although Xavi had lost sight in one eye, the cancer was isolated, treated and he’s been able to continue to have a normal childhood. As a family we will be forever grateful forever grateful for all the hard work the GKCCT do around raising awareness of the symptoms of childhood cancer.”
We are pleased to say that Xavi is still in remission and doing extremely well.
AV1 Avatar Robots
The GKCCT provides AV1 Avatar Robots to help link local children with cancer back to the classroom. The response to these wonderful robots has been amazing. For these isolated children, they are the only way to their contact the to the outside world whilst they are in hospital. To date, we have supported 8 children with this project. in this way and it is an ongoing project.
By giving isolated children this ‘window’ to their friends and the outside world, we can help them to bridge the gap. The AV1 robot allows children in a hospital bed to interact with their classroom and peers at the same time. The project was inspired by Ben Crowther who sadly passed away in 2018 at the age of 7. Remembering Ben who loved his Benbot.
We have funded £270,000 of valuable research into childhood cancers. This is vital to keep working towards finding more effective and kinder treatments for children with cancer.
We will soon be releasing another £80,000 of research funding. We ensure that only the best projects are funded by a rigorous selection process to ensure we fund the projects that could have the most potential benefit on children with cancer.
Support for families
We have also provided almost £50,000 of financial support grants to families to date to help families through this difficult time in their lives. Simply being there for families and offering emotional and practical support can make such a difference.
The last 18 months has been an incredibly difficult time for so many people, including our families. When shop shelves were bare, we delivered support packs of food and supplies to the local families that needed them. It was wonderful to see our team and a number of volunteers working together to deliver these support packs across Worcestershire to the isolating families that needed them. This was vital to so many.
The past year has been turbulent for us all. It has been a time to come together and support each other. The team at the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust has continued to work tirelessly in their fight against childhood cancer.
With charity income taking a decline of 30% below the income predicted for this year, the charity needs the support of the local community now more than ever.
For us to continue our vital work supporting oncology families with not only, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer and funding the vital research needed to help find more effective and kinder treatments for children with cancer we need to raise in excess of £250,000 a year.
There are many ways to get involved with the charity, from volunteering your time, attending an upcoming event, holding your own event or taking on a fundraising challenge or simply making a one-off donation or setting up a regular gift to the trust.
If you would like to find out more about our work and how to support us and get involved , including how to make one off or regular donations, please take a look at our website for more information.