Irchester boy is the face of Lidl’s £1m cancer charity campaign

Luke Ross, right, with brother Euan, dad Tim and mum Jess
Luke Ross, right, with brother Euan, dad Tim and mum Jess
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A five-year-old boy from Irchester has been chosen to front a supermarket chain’s national charity campaign to raise £1m.

Luke Ross, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was just two years old, has been chosen to front supermarket Lidl’s fundraising drive to raise £1m for the children and young people’s cancer support charity CLIC Sargent.

From tomorrow (Wednesday, May 18), Luke and his family, who have been supported by the charity, will be appearing on posters throughout Lidl’s 630 stores to encourage people to help Lidl and CLIC Sargent reach their target.

CLIC Sargent is Lidl’s ongoing charity partner, and since January 2014 the supermarket and its customers and staff have raised £900,000.

The total raised could fund the running costs of the charity’s entire Homes from Home network for more than a year.

The homes provide free accommodation for families close to the hospitals where their loved one is being treated so they can stay together during treatment.

Luke and his family spent time at two of CLIC Sargent’s Homes from Home after he was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer, aged just two-and-a-half.

After a scan found a mass in Luke’s bladder, the family were referred to Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre, which specialises in childhood cancer treatment – a two-hour journey from where there live.

They didn’t return home for the next three months.

Luke’s mum Jess Lusher said: “When Luke was first admitted, my partner Tim slept on the ward with him, and me and our younger son Euan, who was only a few months old at the time, shared a tiny room at the hospital for families.

“I was on a camp-bed and Euan was in a Moses basket next to me, which he wasn’t happy about as he was an absolutely huge baby.

“Then Val, a CLIC Sargent social work assistant, came to see us and said we could stay at the charity’s Home from Home Billy’s House for free, which is just over the road from the hospital.

“It made a huge difference.”

Luke’s parents also received financial assistance and support from CLIC Sargent’s social work team as the extra costs of cancer meant that having spent all their savings, they were forced to sell their belongings in order to make ends meet.

Luke and his brother during treatment

Luke and his brother during treatment

The family later stayed at Paul’s House, the charity’s Home from Home in London, after Luke was referred for specialist treatment, saving them from expensive hotel bills.

Jess added: “We’re all really proud that Luke was chosen to help Lidl and CLIC Sargent reach their £1m target.

“I was really shocked when I heard – I think he’s lovely and beautiful, but then I’m his mum!

“We shop at Lidl and when I explained to Luke that having his photo up at the supermarket could help other children like him stay at Billy’s House, Luke just beamed and said: ‘I want to help other poorly children’.

“We were lucky. Luke is now in remission and has just celebrated his fifth birthday with a superhero party.

“And now I’m looking forward to seeing his lovely face stare down at us when I’m next shopping at Lidl!”

Lidl UK PR manager Maya Orr said: “Luke is such a brave little boy and we are so proud to be linked with a charity that recognises the needs of families such as Luke’s and can offer invaluable support.”

CLIC Sargent fundraising director Rachel Kirby-Rider said: “Luke and his family are just one wonderful example of how thanks to Lidl’s backing, the CLIC Sargent team can make a huge difference to the lives of thousands of families who are going through the hardest of times.

“With Lidl and now Luke’s support, we hope to smash our £1m fundraising target and be there for even more children, young people and families when they need us most.”