When two college pals learnt one of their lecturer’s twin sons had been diagnosed with leukaemia just four weeks ago, they immediately sprang into action by organising what they have now called “The Night Time Walk around the Guild Wheel” to be held next Tuesday, April 7.
Former Goosnargh and Whittingham Whitsuntide Festival Queen, Chloe Collins, 16, and 17-year-old Holly Rhodes, who are both students at Preston’s Cardinal Newman College, are now aiming to raise hundreds of pounds for the oncology ward at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where little Reuben Whittle, who turned three yesterday and is the son of their tourism and leisure lecturer, Jayne Whittle and husband Jason, a lecturer in catering a hospitality at Preston College, is being treated.
Chloe, who lives in Goosnargh, and Holly, from Ashton, who are both studying tourism and leisure at Newman, have been busy roping in support from their own families and friends; the family and friends of Reuben; fellow students and lecturers; Preston North End, where they hope to collect cash at the Good Friday home game; and from anyone else they can think of who might like to join their cause, either by taking part or through sponsorship.
Chloe explained they just wanted to try and do something to help after hearing about Reuben, saying: “He was only diagnosed four weeks ago. He went to the doctors with a bad cough and the family found out he had leukaemia.
“We just really wanted to show Jayne that we wanted to support her.”
And Holly said: “When we found out Jayne’s little boy has got leukaemia, we wanted to do all we can to support her family and also Reuben, so we set up this event.”
Already the pals know they have raised at least £300 in sponsorship and have been given £200 by their college principal to help cover costs. They have also been busy buying flashing lights, etc so walkers can be seen. Everyone is invited to dress up if they so wish and besides making their own t-shirts advertising the walk, there will be various merchandise provided by the hospital including t-shirts, balloons, badges, etc.
On Monday Chloe and Holly were able to meet Reuben for the first time, at his hospital bedside, where his mum and dad have been keeping a vigil since his diagnosis on March 2.
“He was asleep most of the time we were there. It was amazing. We got to see who we are helping,” said Holly.
The walk will take a 10-mile route along the Guild Wheel, starting at Wolseley Road near The River Ribble at 5.30pm and finishing at Merry Trees Lane, near Miller Lane, with music at the start and finish.
Anyone wishing to take part should turn up at 5.15pm to register, but must let Holly know in advance by ringing her on 07816238737. If you would like to sponsor the event text EXLJ91£3 to 70070 or go to https://www.justgiving.com/GuildWheelWalk.
* The parents of little Reuben Whittle say they they have been really touched by Chloe’s and Holly’s efforts (see story above).
Jayne, 41, said: “We are absolutely, genuinely overwhlemed with the effort they have gone to. They have gone to so much trouble and I am pleased that it also raises of awareness of leukaemia.”
She said it was giving them a lot of strength and they would like to thank the girls for all their time and effort, as well as all those who are helping in anyway.
“Having lived on the cancer ward for four weeks now, you can see how the money could be spent making children’s time here a little easier, she said.
Yesterday the family should have been celebrating Reuben’s third birthday with his twin brother Rocco at their home in Croston, but Jayne said the twins would be apart for the first time on their birthday due to infection fears for Reuben, who is being treated with intense chemotherapy.
Reuben’s diagnosis, said Jayne, came “completely out of the blue” - on the very same day they had taken him to the doctor’s with a cough and “usual childhood symptoms”. He was admitted to hospital in Preston and was in Manchester by the end of the day after tests revealed he had leukaemia.
Jayne and Jason have been at Reuben’s bedside ever since, also using a room at Ronald McDonald House which, she says, has been “a lifeline”.
Besides being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia Reuben also has a very rare strain of it called the Philadelphia Chromosome which only affects two per cent of children around the world and is a more aggressive cancer to treat.