Brave Tilly wins trip of a lifetime on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

A brave eight-year-old from Bridgnorth battling a rare form of cancer has been nominated for a luxury holiday to Greece by TV stars Ant & Dec.

Tilly Russell with brother Jesse
Tilly Russell with brother Jesse

Tilly Russell was surprised on ITV's Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway when she was given a seven-night all-inclusive stay at her choice of more than 70 resorts in over 30 destinations.

She was put forward by her mother Helen, who wanted to highlight her determination with a trip of a lifetime.

After being diagnosed unexpectedly with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in January 2020, Tilly spent a large part of the pandemic in hospital undergoing difficult rounds of treatment and several operations.

Due to her vulnerability, her family have had to shield for longer than a year.

Tilly thought she was just joining the virtual audience on the TV show before her name was announced as a winner of the competition, which will send her to Rhodes.

"I can’t wait to go to Greece and swim all day long and dance at the disco in the evening," she said.

"I had to double check it was really my name that was called, I just couldn’t believe it.

"I’ve never been to Rhodes before so I am really excited, and I can’t wait to tell all my friends how much fun I had.”

Helen said she wanted to treat Tilly to a well-deserved break where she can enjoy her time following a challenging 12 months.

“The last year has been hard on us all, it came as a complete shock and we have all been so worried, but Tilly has been a true inspiration," said Helen.

"She has had to face many challenges but has taken it all in her stride and we’re so proud of her.

"Tilly has responded well to chemotherapy so far. If all goes to plan, she will finish treatment in March 2022, so this holiday will definitely be one to remember.”

Tilly said she chose the TUI holiday to Greece, where they will be staying at the Holiday Village Atlantica Rhodes, due to the amount of water fun she can have.

Richard Sofer, commercial director at TUI, said: “We were so touched by Tilly’s story, what an amazing young girl she is.

"We’re delighted we’re able to take the Russell family to Rhodes where they will spend some quality family time together.

"It has been a tough year for all of us and we know how desperate people are to get away with loved ones as soon they can.

"It’s great that we’ve been able to spread a little sunshine with Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and look forward to taking all our Takeaway Getaway winners to the destinations of their choice soon.”

The TV series finished its seven-week run and Tilly was one of 60 winners.

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