Last night I wrapped up my baby and took him out on the town for his first night out – it was a night I just couldn’t miss. My friends, all trustees of the charity too, joined Milo and I, which turned out brilliantly for me as it meant I could sit back and relax whilst sending them off walking the pram after feeds or rocking Milo to the clapping and music. As always they were right there next to me at what turned out to be a very emotional and inspirational evening.
We were invited to York Racecourse to celebrate “York’s unsung heroes” and I was up for an award as Charity Fundraiser of the Year. I am pleased to say I won the award, but I can’t take all the credit. The ceremony was for Community Pride and that is very poignant, as what I have been part of achieving could not have been done without the fantastic community we have around us. We have friends, family and businesses around us who all support us and I dedicate this award to all of you.
The work I do with the charity would not be possible without everyone chipping in, be it as a friend for me to run things by; trustees with ideas, hard work and support; fundraisers at various events; supporters showing that they believe in the charity by donating; family giving time and encouragement; or businesses showing their support and creating awareness of us.
However, as with everything I do these days, there is always the bittersweet twist to it. How amazing to be here and be part of this, but how sad that Oscar isn’t standing next to me and doing this with me. Two years ago, he won Child of the Year at these same awards for his fundraising efforts to help other children in the same situation as him, and now we all continue this in his spirit. Please read through the nomination letter below that was sent to the Community Pride committee – the person who nominated me knows me well and has captured the inspiration that was Oscar!!
MARIE’S NOMINATION LETTER
Marie Hughes lost her son Oscar to a brain tumour last year when he was just 9 years old. Oscar was diagnosed in February 2013, just before his 8th birthday. Following an operation to remove the tumour, Oscar had to undergo a difficult and gruelling six weeks of daily chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and a further 12 months of chemotherapy.
In March 2014, as he was nearing the end of his treatment, Oscar relapsed. There was a small chance of getting him onto a trial that could have saved his life so Oscar’s family and friends, led by Marie, launched an appeal to raise money. It brought in £40,000 in less than a fortnight. Sadly Oscar died in early May, but since his death Marie has devoted her time to setting up a charity in his name. The charity aims to fund much needed research into paediatric brain tumours. It’s called OSCAR’s (Ongoing Support Care And Research) Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity (www.oscarspbtc.org) and it launched in November 2014, just over six months after Oscar died. In under a year, Marie tripled the £40,000 to £120,000.
The charity will partner with national charities including The Brain Tumour Charity, as well as local Yorkshire cancer organisations, to fund research that is looking to find a cure and also less devastating forms of treatment for all children who are diagnosed. Marie announced the charity’s first major research project in April this year, a partnership with The Brain Tumour Charity and Cancer Research UK, which will look at delivering chemotherapy drugs directly into the brains of children with recurrent tumours, rather than orally or intravenously as usually happens.
While the purpose of the charity is to raise money towards research into paediatric brain tumours, Marie has also worked hard to ensure that the way the charity raises money is fun, innovative and also involves children. It was important to Oscar, even while he was going through chemotherapy, that he continued to play sports and show his friends and his two brothers the importance of exercise. The fundraising and awareness building methods that Marie is using ensure that Oscar’s spirit is at the heart of everything the charity does.