Wellingborough-based charity Chelsea's Angels' ten years of creating smiles, making memories and offering support

Chelsea Knighton succumbed to neuroblastoma just one month before her fourth birthday

The mum of a three-year-old, who lost her daughter in a battle against a rare childhood cancer, has vowed to keep her promise to help other poorly children and to not 'let her down again'.

Chelsea Knighton from Irthlingborough was only three when she died on August 9, 2009, and the youngster had one wish before she died - for her family to help other poorly children like her.

Heartbroken mum Emma Knighton and her cousin Michelle Tomkins from Wellingborough, put the money that had been donated for Chelsea's treatment fund, but tragically not used, to set up Chelsea’s Angels in February 2010.

To mark Chelsea's Angels' tenth anniversary, the charity founders had hoped to run a year-long fundraising campaign to continue their support for children living with cancer, and their families, but Covid-19 put their plans on hold.

Emma, 40, said: "We want to keep going. It's the only thing I've got and it keeps her with me. She told me in hospital that she wanted to help other poorly children like her.

"I made that promise. As a mum it's your duty to protect your child and when she died I felt like I let her down. I won't let her down again."

It was in November 2007 when Chelsea was sent to Kettering General Hospital after mum Emma insisted that the initial diagnosis of a 'water infection' needed further tests.

Michelle and Emma would like people to donate goodies for the Boxes of Happiness project

Chelsea had complained of pains in her legs and being tired but it was when Chelsea went 'as white as a sheet' she knew her daughter was very ill. An ultrasound scan revealed a large shadow.

Emma said: "We were taken into a side room and they said we're really sorry but we think she's got a cancerous tumour. I threw up my guts in the toilet."

Mum Emma and dad Andy were immediately told to take Chelsea to Leicester Royal Infirmary's Ward 27 for further tests and treatment that led to the removal of a 12cm by 12cm tumour from her abdomen.

Emma said: "That's when two years of hell started. Chelsea took it all in her stride. Our other daughter Shannon who was seven at the time was split between the grandparents.

Chelsea at an event in the Swansgate shopping centre

"Chelsea and I spent weeks in isolation in a side ward. Because she was so young we didn't qualify for any money. She was too young for travel allowance, too young for other help.

"We've been told by CLIC Sargent that families spend £600 a month extra when a child has cancer travel, costs, extra heating costs at home, refurbishing homes to make them suitable for medical equipment."

The charity's 'Team Chelsea' fundraise throughout the year at community gatherings including quiz nights, carnivals, and at Easter, Halloween and Christmas to supply help, wishes and care packs to make families' lives easier when they are caring for children with cancer.

Michelle, 45, a lunchtime supervisor, said "Over the last ten years, we have raised over £320,000. We have delivered 580 care packs to Leicester Royal Infirmary children's oncology ward since 2013 and the past five years delivered 554 Christmas Eve boxes to the ward, and to local children and their siblings.

The cousins have supported each other through the past years

"Last year we raised £34,000 but this year has been badly affected by the coronavirus. We've already lost over £12,000 compared to last year's fundraising by missed events and will be more with future events at risk. This in turn means we can't help many children fighting cancer, and could mean we have to close.

"We have come all this way and will not let Covid-19 destroy it.

"We have a new project where we are going to be sending out ' A Box Full of Happiness' to children until we can get back to fundraising as normal. The boxes will have crafts, books and toys for the children and some toiletries as well as a voucher for the family to use. We are hoping to theme them to suit the child.

"People can help us by donating brand new items, holding a fundraising event, having a donations box at their workplace or even just sharing our events on social media."

Working with clients referred by CLIC Sargent, Team Chelsea have so far supported 701 children and their families fulfilling their motto 'Creating smiles, making memories and offering support'.

The new Boxes of Happiness will be launched to mark the eleven year anniversary of Chelsea's death on August 9.

Emma added: "Chelsea went through hell and back and she didn't give up. Neither will we. I feel that Chelsea's Angels is all I have got left of her. It gives me a purpose."

Click here to see our special picture tribute to Chelsea and her legacy of a decade of fundraising in her name.

For more information about CLIC Sargent click here. Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that affects children, mostly under the age of five. Around 100 children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year in the UK.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that starts in a type of nerve cell called a neuroblast and often starts in the abdomen.

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