An 12-year-old boy from Luton who survived cancer was a guest of honour at a party to celebrate the courage of children and young people diagnosed with cancer.
Rhys Kiernan was among 21 children and young people, who have been affected by cancer, invited to the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards party, supported by TK Maxx.
The magical winter wonderland themed party was held at Santa's 'summer home' in London. It gave children and their families, some of whom have missed out on festive celebrations in the past due to cancer treatment, a memorable experience together.
They all received a special award to recognise their strength and there was also a performance from children's TV presenter Mister Maker.
Rhys was only four when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had surgery to remove the tumour, but complications and infections meant he had to have five more operations.
As part of his treatment, Rhys took part in a clinical trial funded by Cancer Research UK which aims to increase survival for children and young people with low grade glioma – these brain tumours start in the glial cells, which support nerve cells in the brain.
Rhys’s mum Keely said “Lots of the children at school ask him about the scar running down the back of his head, but he takes it in his stride. He’s a happy, affectionate, loveable boy and an inspiration to us all.”
At the party Rhys took part in a variety of winter themed games, arts and craft activities, including making glitter baubles in an elf's workshop, he also received an early present from Santa and met other characters from the North Pole.
Speaking about the party, Keely said: “It’s been absolutely amazing – the atmosphere has been fantastic and all the kids have clearly really enjoyed themselves. Rhys may have been one of the older children on the day but he still loved meeting Father Christmas.
"He also got to meet the people from TK Maxx after being the face of their Give Up Clothes For Good campaign and appearing in posters and in the Cancer Research UK shops – that was an extra special touch for us.”
The Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards celebrate the courage of all children and young people in the UK who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Every child and young person nominated receives a trophy, a t-shirt, a certificate signed by celebrities and a £50 TK Maxx voucher.
Jenny Makin, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokesperson for Luton, said: “It is an absolute honour to be able to recognise the strength of youngsters like Rhys who have been through so much at such a young age. He is a real ‘star’.
“Cancer can have a devastating impact on children and young people, so it was a joy to see Rhys’s smile light up as he met Santa and took part in our winter wonderland themed party.
“Every year, around 160 children are diagnosed with cancer in the East of England* Our mission is to help save the lives of more youngsters and reduce the long-term side effects they may experience, by finding new, better and kinder treatments.
“It was a pleasure to meet Rhys and his mum – we hope they’ve had a fantastic day creating special memories together!”
TK Maxx’s support of the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards is part of a year-round fundraising partnership including its clothing collection campaign, Give Up Clothes for Good, which takes place again this September helping to raise vital funds to help beat children’s and young people’s cancers.
Since 2004, the retailer has raised over £32 million to support Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s cancers.
For more information about the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards or to nominate a star, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens.