12-year-old superhero fights back from brain tumour to raise £81,000

Even a brain tumour can’t hold back superhero Olly McKenna.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 11:30 am
Olly McKenna who wouldn't let a brain tumour stand in the way of his inspiring fundraising.

Two years ago, the 12-year-old was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma and had to have major brain surgery. Four months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy on his spine and brain followed after that.

But while he was in hospital at the RVI in Newcastle, he decided he was going to fight back.

He even went to the trouble of meeting with hospital management to discuss how he could help with funding.

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The Best of South Tyneside Awards sponsors.

And now, two years on and after arranging events including family fun days, he has raised an incredible £81,000 to support pre-teens going through treatment and to help children on the cancer ward by ‘brining a smile to their faces’.

He’s back playing football with Hebburn Juniors and becomes the latest entry in the Best of South Tyneside Awards.

Mum Jill said: “Olly is an amazing strong minded young lad that has demonstrated to all around them of the power of selflessness and the mind. I know no other that deserves this award more.”

She hailed her son as a ‘superhero’ and described how – under the banner of Team Olly – he has persuaded friends, family and even complete strangers to ‘prove kids with cancer can have fun’.

Olly and friends pictured after they did the Junior Great North Run.

Now comes your chance to support Olly’s fundraising. Mum Jill said her son and friend Nick Birch had arranged a family fun day which will be held tomorrow (Saturday, July 13).

It starts at 10am at Hebburn Football Club and will include live music, a disco, tombola, raffle, refreshments and a bouncy castle as well as a under-18s reunion match.

Entry is £3.50 for adults and £1.50 for children. Contact Jason on 07932 022225 or pay on the gate.

Olly joins a growing list of Best of South Tyneside Awards entries but we want more.

We want to know about the unsung heroes, community champions, inspirational children and fantastic sports people for this year’s awards which will be taking nominations until Friday, August 30.

That’s loads of time to put forward your favourites – and once we pass that deadline, the judges will meet to draw up a shortlist in each amazing category on September 3.

Then it is on to the grand finale which will be held on Thursday, September 19 at the Roker Hotel.

The Best of South Tyneside awards, this year, have the support of Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, Tyne Coast College, Barbour, JML, Harlow Print, UTS, and Warmseal.

Watch out for more details on them in the days and weeks to come.

In the meantime, let’s start that process of honouring all those unsung stars.

There are plenty of categories to choose from.

Get your nomination in as soon as you can as that way, you know you’ve put an unsung hero in the running for honours.

To nominate, please send us the full name, phone number and email address, of the person you wish to nominate and the category you want to nominate them for, along with a brief description of why they are worthy of an award.

And if you are submitting an entry in the Young Performer category, send us a video of them performing.

Send your entries by email to: [email protected] or to https://www.bestofsouthtyneside.co.uk.


Green Champion of the Year.

Child of Achievement.

Fundraiser of the Year.

Entrepreneur of the Year.

Local Hero Award.

Sporting Excellence/Young Sportsperson of the Year.

Sports Team of the Year.

Community Champion.

Student of the Year.

Community Group.

Small Business of the Year.

Large Business of the Year.

Child of Courage

Young Performer of the Year.

Lifetime Contribution.

Special Recognition.