Minister for Health to join the Northern Ireland leg of UK charity walk for children's cancer and leukaemia
Minister for Health in Northern Ireland, Mr Edwin Poots, will be joining the Belfast leg of Emily's Big Walk at Stormont Castle.
Emily's Big Walk has been organised by the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), a national charity and will feature a symbol of the walk being passed along several routes around the UK in a similar way to the Olympic torch.
The walk is named after Emily Bailes, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five and lost her battle with the disease in March 2008 aged nine.
Walks are currently set to take place in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast, Leeds, London, Leicester, Nottingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, South-hampton, Birmingham, Cambridge and Cardiff throughout September. The final destination of the 'torch' will be the Barbican Centre in London for the start of the SIOP Conference.
Professor Sue Ablett, CCLG Executive Director, said: "Emily represents all children with cancer – both those who have survived and those who have not. The funds help our prime aim of improving the care of children with cancer and helping our members find more effective ways of treatment.
Leona Knox, a Belfast mother whose son Oscar, aged 3 is currently receiving treatment for cancer is supporting the walk to raise money and awareness to tackle children's cancer.
Along with others she will be walking for The Children's Haematology Unit, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in the grounds of Stormont on Sunday 9th September 2012 at 2pm. The 4km walk
will raise funds for Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), Northern Ireland Children's Cancer Unit Fund (NICCUF), Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC), and Clic Sargent (Northern
Oscar spends a lot of time as a patient at the Children's Haematology Unit. As well as getting treatment there he enjoys spending time with the Play Specialist, who helps to bring fun back into the children's lives while they endure gruelling treatment. He loves playing with the other children, and "helping" the nurses carry out their work. It is an amazing place with amazing staff, where everyone tries to make this difficult journey that little bit easier through spending time talking to the parents and providing a place where the children feel safe and nurtured.
Families try to undertake fundraising events to support the unit and these other charities, but most are concentrating on getting themselves and their children through an extremely difficult time, so it is important the public are aware of this need and do their best to help us. Children can spend weeks at a time in the unit, from babies to teenagers, and it is vital that it is a comfortable, safe and enjoyable environment. It costs a lot of money to maintain such a unique ward, and we must do everything we can to ensure these vulnerable children and young people are cared for and accommodated in the best way possible. Each of the 4 charities have played an important role in our lives since we received Oscar's devastating diagnosis, and we will do everything we can to help promote awareness and support them.
We are very grateful to the staff at the Children's cancer ward for all their care and support, and we hope the funds raised by the walk can help them with their work in the future. We also hope to help the CCLG in their treatment of children with cancer around the UK.
Dr Robert Johnston, a consultant at the Children's Haematology Unit and CCLG members, said:
"We hope the walk will help us raise the funds we need to continue to help young people like Oscar and their families".
For more information contact:
Gail burns 02890 634330 or Sophie Rea 02890632402 at RBHSC.