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Two seven-year-old girls inspire firefighters' cancer charity fundraiser

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | News | Published:

A group of Shropshire firefighters have been inspired to raise money by two seven-year-old girls battling cancer.

From left are Dan Hurst, Leo Silva, Tim Hughes, Steve Taylor, Neal Wynn and Simon Morris.

Ten firefighters will be cycling from the fire service's Shrewsbury headquarters to Aberdyfi on the Welsh coast to raise money for the Harry Johnson Trust.

The team will be setting off on the 150-mile round trip at 5am on August 22.

Tim Hughes, manager of Blue Watch at Telford Fire Station, said he had initially been inspired by the plight of his niece Tilly, from Bridgnorth, who has been undergoing treatment for leukaemia at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital (PRH).

Tilly, who is described by her uncle as "super brave" and "a real hero", has been treated alongside the daughter of a friend and colleague of Tim's, with both families receiving support from the Harry Johnson Trust.

Tim said that after hearing about the girls the entire of Blue Watch wanted to get involved and raise funds.

Tilly Russell, who has been undergoing treatment for leukaemia and is described as a "real hero" by her uncle Tim Hughes.

Tim, 41, who has been with the fire service for 18 years, said: "In the early part of this year my niece was diagnosed with leukaemia, completely out of the blue after a great Christmas.

"Unfortunately there has since been a further childhood cancer diagnosis involving the daughter of a good friend and colleague at Telford. The two seven-year-old girls were side by side at the PRH in the children's oncology ward receiving life saving chemotherapy – both with their families providing 24-hour company and support.

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"I visited the ward nearly every day and my sister told me about a fantastic charity which offers both support and assistance to buy things for the children and families affected by cancer. The Harry Johnson Trust is set up to directly support children getting treatment at the PRH – where sick children are treated for cancer in Shropshire.

"When I first started to visit in January, I began to think how I could repay some of the good work that the Harry Johnson Trust does and maybe fund assistance to future young patients.

Tilly Russell

"I decided on a charity bike ride and planned a route to Aberdyfi and back. Two weeks later we had the shocking news about our colleague's daughter – my whole watch immediately got on board the bike ride idea and now we all plan to complete the ride on August 22."

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Tim said he hoped the ride would also raise knowledge of the work of the Harry Johnson Trust, set up in memory of seven-year-old Harry, who died from a rare childhood cancer in 2014.

He said: "It is unfortunate that people never really hear about this trust until they get awful news – Blue Watch Telford Central would like to raise awareness and as much money as we can to help Harry Johnson's mum, Sally, to continue her great work."

Tim will be joined on the ride by Simon Morris, Anna Nicholas, Neal Wynn, Leo Silva, Dan Hurst, Dean Bounds, Jamie Hammonds, Matt Stanton and Mark Roberts.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the cause can do so at https://www.givey.com/augustbigbikeride.

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