The moving story of an inspirational little girl as she battles an inoperable brain tumour has helped to raise vital funds for more research into a condition known as a silent killer.
Claudia Burkill was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer in June 2011 when she was just five-years-old.
The news left her mother Andrea so distraught that she felt unable to talk to friends and family about her daughter’s condition and treatment and so she set up a Facebook page where she could provide online updates.
Since then ‘Claudia’s Cause’ has attracted 191,000 followers from across the world, and up to 1 million people regularly read the posts or look at the pictures.
And thanks to their online supporters Andrea managed to raise astonishing £100,000 in just 13 days.
Andrea, whose family come from Houghton-le-Spring, but who now lives in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire with husband Dave, said: “At first I thought the figure was total madness but I wanted to aim high and it didn’t matter if it took weeks, months or years.
“But we raised £24,000 in the first 24 hours alone, that’s £1,000 an hour.
“The fact we reached our target so quickly amazed us and I have had thousands of kind messages of support.”
Followers of Claudia’s heartbreaking story have seen her undergo intense chemotherapy and contract meningitis twice.
Doctors have told her parents that she will not survive, but despite the loss of most of her speech and movement, a result of the meningitis, and being unable to eat, she still giggles and laughs with her sisters and brother.
“She still has the light in her eyes,” said Andrea. “She will always be Claudia inside.”
Donations have included £1,000 from a lady who donated instead of having Christmas presents.
One lady also emailed Andrea to say how Claudia’s story had saved her life as it had helped her to spot the signs that she had a brain tumour.
Andrea’s parents David and Christina Kingdon are originally from Houghton-le-Spring and the family often return to see relatives and friends, taking Claudia and her siblings Abigail, eight, Esme, six and Zachary, two to local attractions such as Beamish Museum.
Mr Kingdon said: “We are both incredibly proud of what both Andrea and her husband David have achieved and continue to achieve.
“Raising not only thousands and thousands of pounds for worthwhile charities and causes but also, and as equally as importantly, raising awareness whilst maintaining normality and a loving family environment to all of their children. We couldn’t hold them in higher esteem”.
Andrea was recently named Inspirational fundraiser of the Year at a national award ceremony hosted by Lorraine Kelly.
This was the result of previous fundraising she had done for children’s cancer charities and the charity Head Smart which aims to promote awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours in children and young people.
Andrea added: “Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40, yet research remains underfunded compared to other cancers.
“This money will all go directly to doctors carrying out research into brain tumours at the University of Nottingham and really will make a difference.”
The fundraising page remains open until New Year’s Eve. To donate visit:
To find out more about the symptoms of brain tumours visit http://www.headsmart.org.uk/