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Over 220 primary school children took part in a sponsored walk on Tyneside to raise money for children’s cancer research in memory of a former pupil who passed away at the age of just four.

The children, aged between three and ten, from Front Street Primary School took part in the milestone fifth annual Whickham Waddle on Tuesday 12th July.

Each youngster has been drumming up support and sponsorship for the walk, in the hopes that they can raise over £2,000 this year for North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR).

The Waddle was set up in 2012 by Front Street School teaching assistant Lynda Scott and former nursery teacher Sara Crumley, after their pupil Katie Slyderink was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain tumour.

Lynda said: “I remember Katie fondly, she was such a delightful child – so full of love and playful mischief! Even when she was going through all that harrowing treatment she still came to nursery with a big, infectious smile and just got on with playing with the other children.

“It was devastating when we heard Katie’s diagnosis was terminal and we wanted to support her family as much as we could. We decided to set up a sponsored walk and Katie’s parents suggested the NECCR as our chosen charity. Katie attended the very first waddle and I can still picture her happy, smiling face as she played on the swings in the park and picked flowers along the way.

“We’re so proud that the Waddle has gone from strength to strength, in Katie’s memory. In previous years only nursery and reception classes have taken part, but this year is our biggest ever event, as we have invited year groups three and five as well.”

The walk began at the brand new Front Street Primary School in Whickham, progressing to the Hermitage Garden where the children got to see flowers planted earlier this year in Katie’s memory, before finishing in Chase Park.

Alongside Katie’s former classmates, her identical twin sister Anna, now aged eight, and ten-year-old brother Thomas also took part in the Waddle this year, with mum, Emma.

Emma, who works as a doctor in Washington, said: “It means so much to us that the school continue to honour and remember Katie by organising this wonderful event each year. I know that if she were here she would love to join in. It gives us comfort know that the money raised will go towards finding better treatments so that in the future more children with cancer can be cured.”

The children from Front Street Primary School will present a cheque for their sponsorship money to NECCR Chairman, Chris Peacock at a special assembly on Wednesday 20th July.

Chris said: “We are honoured to have the support of Katie’s family and her former classmates at Front Street School. Every year the children and their teachers and families put their heart and soul into organising this wonderful event. Their generous donations are truly overwhelming and we can’t thank them enough. The money they raise will fund vital research here in the North to help save the lives of children and young people in years to come.”

Over the past 35 years, the NECCR has raised over £30 million and has helped to establish the North East as world-leaders in childhood cancer research.

While research over the past three decades has dramatically reduced the number of deaths from childhood cancer, it is still the biggest killer of children in the UK after road traffic accidents. Each year around 120 children and young people are newly diagnosed with cancer in the North East.

To sponsor the Whickham Waddle toddlers, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/l-scott

North of England Children’s Cancer Research is a Newcastle based children’s charity, founded by families effected by childhood cancer. The charity has raised over £30 million for research into better treatments for children’s cancer.

To find out more or to make a donation, please call 07808 349570 or email janet@neccr.org.uk

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