Brain tumour victim Katy Holmes will have a groundbreaking research project into the disease named after her as the campaign launched in her memory has hit £185,000.
Katy, 10, of Margaret Road, Penwortham, near Preston, died in January last year just months after suddenly being struck by an inoperable brain tumour.
Her devastated parents Paula and David launched the Katy Holmes Trust in honour of Katy and pledged to fund research into childhood brain tumours to prevent other families going through the same anguish.
Their first aim was to fund a three-year research fellowship into the same brain tumour that Katy died from being carried out at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham.
The centre has already made significant progress into the tumour by discovering a mutant gene in the majority of young patients and research chiefs promised to name the fellowship after Katy if the Katy Holmes Trust raised the money needed to fund it.
Paula and David today revealed that the Katy Holmes Trust has reached its first goal and hit £185,000 after another grieving family who recently lost their four-year-old daughter to a brain tumour made a £50,000 donation to the cause.
Amelia Saunders, four, of Reading, Berkshire, was diagnosed with an incurable and inoperable brain tumour and lost her fight for life on January 6 this year.
The two families made contact with each other and after Amelia died, Paula and David regularly spoke to Amelia’s parents Richard and Chantal.
Paula today said: “Richard and Chantal got in touch with us not long after Katy died to give us some support and offer help with our fundraising efforts.
“They had Amelia who was battling the same brain tumour as Katy and had raised £200,000 in 12 weeks to fund her treatment abroad and they also have a younger daughter Charlotte.
“We stayed in touch and followed their journey on their Facebook page ‘Amelia’s Miracle’.
“We telephoned each other and e-mailed regularly and our hearts broke as they fought to save Amelia but sadly in early January Amelia died.
“We went to the memorial service at Winchester Cathedral which was beautiful.
“Richard and Chantal had some money left over from Amelia’s treatment and have very kindly given the Katy Holmes Trust £50,000.
“We are astounded and overwhelmed.
“This means we now have enough money to fund our first lot of research.
“After Amelia died, we visited Katy and asked her to give us a sign that she was looking after Amelia.
“Katy’s Christmas tree lights that we had put on her grave hadn’t worked for a few weeks and suddenly they came on. This was a good enough sign for us.
“Richard and Chantal are incredible people and we are so eternally grateful to them.
“I hope our two families can work together to find a cure and make our girls proud.”
Richard Saunders, Amelia’s dad said: “When we started fundraising for Amelia’s treatment, we always made a promise that any funds outstanding would go to a number of our nominated charities.
“Paula and David are incredible people and we are honoured to be able to make this donation.”
David Holmes said: “We want to thank everyone who has supported the Katy Holmes Trust and we want people to carry on fundraising as this is not the end.
“The more money the Katy Holmes Trust raises, the more research we can fund so we can find a cure for brain tumours which are affecting so many children.”
Prof Richard Grundy, paediatric neuro-oncologist at The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, said: “Childhood brain tumours are the leading cause of cancer related death in children.
“Improving the outcome for children with brain tumours needs to come from dedicated and specialised research.
“The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre has brought together the wide ranging expertise and commitment to drive this work forwards.
“We are therefore deeply grateful to the Katy Holmes Trust for investing in The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre enabling us to conduct this vital research.”