Family overwhelmed by anonymous £1,000 donation to help toddler fighting eye cancer

The family of a toddler battling a rare eye cancer say they are overwhelmed by people’s generosity – including an anonymous donation of £1,000.

The family of Ivor Spottiswood have been overwhelmed by people's generosity
The family of Ivor Spottiswood have been overwhelmed by people's generosity

After we featured Ivor Spottiswood’s fight with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer that affects just 50 children in the UK a year, donations have been flooding in from the community.

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It means the 21-month-old from Laygate is now in the midst of gruelling chemotherapy treatment at Newcastle’s RVI, as well as making regular trips to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for laser therapy in a bid to shrink the tumours.

Ivor checking himself out on the front of the Gazette.

Inspired by the youngster’s fight, a host of fundraising has been set up in his name, including a squat challenge being undertaken by Jess’s friends for CHECT (childhood eye cancer trust), which has raised more than £1,000, smashing their target of £150.

Leanne Silmon, Fay Wilberforce, Ashlee Elliott and Charlie Stephenson, who all have children Ivor’s age, are each completing 2021 squats in January to raise money for the lifeline charity which has been supporting the Spottiswoods with Ivor’s diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

She’s taking on a sponsored walk from Lands End to John O'Groats, but because of the pandemic will be doing one of the UK’s biggest walking challenges of 850 miles across 10 months with her daily permitted walks in South Shields.

Ivor with his dad, Gary Spottiswood

The 36-year-old had only intended to raise £1,000, but the fund has already reached more than £5,000. After the Gazette featured Ivor’s story, a donation of £1,000 was made.

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It’s not known who the person is, just that their donation name is “SSFC Fan”. Making the donation on the Just Giving page, they left a message saying “From a SSFC fan. Good luck young man my prayers are with you. Hope to see you at a game soon.”

Hundreds more has been raised for the fund after Jess’s auntie Barbara Kassae, known as Babs, passed away suddenly and her son Simon asked for donations for Ivor instead of funeral flowers.

Georga said: “The support and generosity has been completely overwhelming. I only expected people to put in a £1, or just what was affordable, but many have donated £100, someone gifted £500 and a South Shields Football Club fan put £1,000 into Ivor’s fund.

Ivor with his auntie, Georga Spottiswood, who has set up a Just Giving page
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“We’ll definitely be taking Ivor to the matches to support the team when we’re allowed – and when he’s recovered from his chemotherapy.

“To everyone that’s donated, from the bottom of our hearts, the family and I are truly, truly grateful.”

She added: “The money will be used to help with everyday living, caring for Ivor and the constant 7-hour all round trips from South Shields to Birmingham – something they will have to do until Ivor is 16.”

What is retinoblastoma?

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Ivor is undergoing chemotherapy, which has caused his hair to fall out

::Retinoblastoma is a rare childhood cancer that mainly affects children under the age of six, with approximately one child a week diagnosed in the whole of the UK.

::It has one of the best survival rates of childhood cancers, but early detection is key.

::There are a number of symptoms which can be an indication of retinoblastoma. They are: a white reflection in the eye when a photo is taken, a squint and a red or swollen eye, a change in iris colour, no red eye in one eye in a photo when the other is red and deterioration in sight.

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::There are a number of treatment options, depending on each child’s case, including cryotherapy, laser therapy and chemotherapy. In more severe cases, an artificial eye may need to be fitted.

::Support can be found on the CHECT website, Tel: 020 7377 5578 or email [email protected]

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