Five years of fighting to support those hit by childhood cancer

Chelsea Knighton
Chelsea Knighton

A charity wants to raise more money and awareness in the fight against neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers.

Chelsea Knighton, who lost her brave two-year fight against neuroblastoma on August 9, 2009, had one wish before she died.

Emma and Michelle from Chelsea's Angels with the care packs at Leicester Royal Infirmary

Emma and Michelle from Chelsea's Angels with the care packs at Leicester Royal Infirmary

She wanted her family to help other poorly children like her and so Chelsea’s Angels was set up in 2010.

Now in its fifth year, the Irthlingborough-based charity has raised £140,000 and helped 285 children and their families affected by neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers.

Chelsea’s mum Emma Knighton said: “We help 
children aged from newborn up to 18 because Chelsea was under three when she was diagnosed and we struggled to get help.

“Chelsea didn’t really get many wishes because she wasn’t old enough and by the time she was old enough, she was too poorly.

Chelsea's Angels

Chelsea's Angels

“That’s one of the reasons that we started with young kids.”

The charity helps families who have children undergoing treatment.

It could be a gift for the child or assistance to the parents in covering costs such as fuel to get to and from hospital appointments.

Chelsea’s Angels has also donated about 100 care packs to youngsters having treatment at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Michelle Tomkins, cousin of Emma, said: “We are a local charity but we help children nationally.

“It was a way of giving back to local families because a lot of them are treated at Leicester and it was where Chelsea was treated.

“But we help children all over the UK and Ireland.

“Up to now we have raised £140,000 and we have helped 285 children and families.

“It’s not just the children we help, the whole family is affected.

“We help pay for petrol, cover bills and we helped one family pay their mortgage one month.

“We help them by buying things they need, which might be a washing machine, cooker, bed or even carpets, whatever eases things for them.

“We sent one girl a laptop so she could watch Peppa Pig.

“When they thank you and they show you photos of them playing with the gifts or one of them healthy and with big smiles, it’s great.”

But while the charity has helped a lot of children, it hasn’t been easy for the family as they still try to come to terms with their own loss as well as learn the ropes of running a charity.

Emma said: “It’s been hard.”

She said they are in their fifth year but many people still don’t know who they are or what they do.

The charity has four trustees and between six and eight people who regularly help them with fundraisers, such as Wellingborough carnival last weekend.

But they would love to have more people helping them raise funds and awareness about neuroblastoma, as well as organising events.

Looking ahead, Emma said: “In five years’ time I’d like there to be a cure for childhood cancer but that’s wishful thinking.

“I would like more awareness, more help and more support.”

She added: “Chelsea had all the symptoms of neuroblastoma but we didn’t know.

“If I had known these were the symptoms, I may have picked up on it, I could have got a second opinion.

“If I had got a second opinion, who knows where we could be now.”

How to support Chelsea’s Angels

The charity has always been keen to help not only the children affected, but those around them too.

Michelle said: “That’s why we help siblings as well as the children because they go on that journey too.

“It’s not just the children who get cancer, it is the whole family.”

Chelsea’s sister Shannon had her head shaved in memory of her sister.

Her mum said: “Shannon has been through so much, she has had to grow up so fast.

“The amount of stuff that she had to watch and go through is unthinkable.”

Asked what Chelsea would have thought of her charity, her mum said: “She would have laughed at us for stressing.

“But it was her last wish so I hope she is looking down at us and saying we are doing a good job.”

Family fun day

The charity is having a family fun day at Wellingborough’s Tithe Barn on July 19 from 10.30am until 4pm including a bouncy castle, face painting, tombola, cakes and entertainment.

Michelle said: “There will be lots of things for people to do.

“It’s one of our main events.”

They will also be doing events through September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, including a wear gold day.

It is hoped schools, clubs and businesses will get involved.