Last month’s Great Birmingham 10k may have been cancelled, but that didn’t stop Jackie and Denis Crowley, from Halesowen, from keeping their commitment to fundraise for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. Instead, they swapped the city streets for their local canal path, and managed to raise £535 as thank you for their grandson’s care.

 James, 13-years-old, is currently undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. But, unfortunately, this isn’t his first bout of the disease. James was just seven-years-old when he was first diagnosed in 2014. His family had noticed some persistent bruising on his legs – a typical symptom of leukaemia, a blood cancer – and after some tests their worst fears were confirmed. James began is treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital the very next day.

 It was a horrible time for the family, especially given the fact that James had already had a tough start to life after he was born with Downs Syndrome, followed by his mum Claire – Jackie and Denis’s daughter-in-law – being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis just a few years earlier. The treatment was invasive and James had every side-effect in the book, but throughout the months and years that past, his grandparents were there to support the family, whether it was going to appointments, giving a Claire a break during hospital stays or looking after their granddaughter Annabelle.  

 James rang the end-of-treatment bell in 2017 and the family thought he had the all clear, but tragically just 16 months later, the bruising reappeared and James was back in hospital again. He is currently undergoing the ‘maintenance’ period of his latest treatment, which lasts 88 weeks and won’t finish until June next year. 

 The outbreak of COVID-19 has made it even more challenging for the family, with James and Claire both having to shield to protect themselves, and Jackie and Denis unable to support Claire and their son Dave, as they usually do.     

 Jackie said: “It’s been very tough to have to keep away from the family. James and his grandad are like two peas in a pod, and we want to support Claire and Dave but we know how important it is for them to protect themselves. It’s just not worth the risk. Instead, Denis and I thought the best way we could support them was to crack on with our 10k like we had planned.

 “The care James has received from his consultant Mr Motwani, and his nurses over the years, has been amazing and this is our little thank you. James has had it tougher than most, but he’s a little trooper and a right character, always trying to make everyone laugh. We’re hopeful we’ll be reunited with him soon!”

 Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “What a remarkable family! It is clear James has inherited his resilience from his mum and grandparents, and we’re so thankful to Jackie and Denis for persevering with their fundraising, at a time when our hospital and patients need their support more than ever.”