Fundraising, campaigns and making memories - the legacy of the Bradley Lowery Foundation
A charity set up in memory of a special little boy who captured the hearts of the nation is a shining example of how much can be achieved in little more than a year.
In around 18 short months the Bradley Lowery Foundation has supported children and families from all walks of life with their own challenges, all inspired by the fight of one youngster.
Bradley, who was six when he died, was supported by so many people across the country as he faced terminal neuroblastoma cancer.
The foundation in his name was set up by mum Gemma Lowery in the wake of his death, with the aim of making a difference to the lives of other families.
And despite facing the heartbreaking loss of her son each day, Gemma has told of how Bradley’s memory continues to inspire the mission of the Foundation and help her stay positive.
She said: “[The Foundation] was created because of Bradley, he was the one who created his own legacy.
“I just have to live up to it. They are very big shoes to fill. Am I doing enough to live up to what he created?”
Back in 2013, Gemma launched her own fundraiser with the support of family and friends to try and raise enough money to secure treatment for her son in the United States. The total raised topped £1million, with the money going on to provide the funding base for the charity.
It was the success of this which inspired the charity’s focus to help children and their families with fundraising for treatment or equipment which is not readily available or covered by the NHS.
Following on from these successes, the Foundation has taken on the fight of more than a dozen other children, and has also begun work to support “legacies” in memory of children who have now lost their lives.
These include helping two families raise money for research into brain tumours, helping another with making memories and supporting a fourth with distributing grants to ease the burden of day-to-day life spent in hospital.
Gemma continued: “I like to get to know our families and go down and visit them - I travel the country to make sure we have got that rapport.
“Any time that they need us, we are on hand for them.”
At the charity’s launch, Gemma, co-founder Lynn Murphy and their team planned to support only five children and their families at any one time.
Due to demand, the Foundation’s staff was expanded so they could take on as many campaigns as possible.
It was also confirmed at the end of 2018 that the charity plans to open a holiday home for sick children and their families in Scarborough - a place which holds many happy memories for Gemma, husband Carl and their family.
It was the last place they visited with Bradley and it is hoped that the home the Foundation builds, on land gifted by Scarborough Borough Council on a long lease, will help other families create precious times of their own.
Gemma added: “I always knew I wanted to do a holiday home.
“We got to make beautiful memories with Bradley and I am all about giving back to the world and giving other people a chance to make their own memories.”
But the thing she is most proud of in the Foundation’s work?
“I am proud of all my team and everybody that works for the Foundation,” Gemma said.
“We are like a little family, all of our volunteers and Bradley’s champions are just fantastic.
“I have got an amazing team behind me to do what I do, and we have done so many things over the last year it would be difficult to choose just one. There’s that much to think of.”
She added: “Bradley would be very proud of me and all of the guys who are working for us.”