'Inspirational' cancer boy's legacy lives on

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Whiteley family

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Laughlin came up with the idea for his charity – which also helps support young cancer sufferers and their children – while he was being treated in hospital

A mother who lost her son to cancer said his voice has urged her to carry on with his “legacy”.

Laughlin Whiteley died aged seven in 2014 from a relapse of leukaemia after undergoing a stem cell transplant.

Before he passed away, he started a charity with his parents to give out craft boxes to severely ill children staying in hospital.

“I do feel like he’s doing greater things,” said his mother Andrea Poyser. “He is alive everywhere.”

She said a “phenomenal” 700 boxes had now been sent out in his name.

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Laughlin, with his grandfather and father John (left), who wrote about his son’s illness in a blog

Laughlin, who was also known as Lockey, had the idea for his charity while in isolation during his stem cell transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

“Craft and art gave Laughlin a project to keep him busy,” said Mrs Poyser.

“There are big windows on the isolation ward, and everyone used to walk past and say his room was like an art gallery.

“Creating and making is such a simple thing to do. It breaks the day up and is a lovely thing for parents to do with children.

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Whiteley family

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Before he died, Laughlin was given an award by Prince Harry for being Most Inspirational Child

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Whiteley family

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Laughlin’s little sister Eliza, three, helps a volunteer to pack the boxes

The family, who now live in Alburgh, Norfolk, prepare the boxes with help of volunteers who wear protective gloves and sanitise every item.

Each contains age-appropriate toys and crafts, and is distributed to bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients in Great Ormond Street and hospitals across the east of England.

Mrs Poyser said the charity, called Unlock a Life for Lockey, had “grown and grown”.

“Every time I tried to stop it came back to bite me,” she said. “I’d had a baby, we’d moved to Norfolk – but then someone would get in touch.

“My little boy in heaven was saying, ‘You’ve got to keep going’.”

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Whiteley family

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Andrea Poyser with her son Laughlin, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of four before subsequently developing leukaemia

Laughlin’s former play worker at Great Ormond Street, Amy Crowley, said he was the “most amazing fun”, and had “no words to express how grateful” she was for his boxes.

“These children are in isolation for a long time… I have one patient who’s been here for a year,” she said.

“The boxes keep them busy for a month and they have things like tents which distract them from the fact they are in hospital… and changes their mood.

“So much care and thought goes into each box – it is as though they know the child… they know how much that child needs that box.”

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Whiteley family

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The family – which includes Eliza, three, and Gus, nine – moved to Norfolk from Essex days after Eliza’s birth