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Ex-Dagenham and Redbridge FC player kayaks across Channel to raise £230,000 so boy with rare cancer can get live-saving treatment

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 July 2020

Charlie and Mike had to hitch a ride across French shipping lanes before resuming the crossing. Picture: Charlie Holmes

Charlie and Mike had to hitch a ride across French shipping lanes before resuming the crossing. Picture: Charlie Holmes

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A former Daggers footballer has kayaked across the Channel to raise more than £200,000 so a boy with a rare cancer can get the life-saving treatment he needs.

Liam has been receiving immunotherapy treatment. Picture: Scott familyLiam has been receiving immunotherapy treatment. Picture: Scott family

Charlie Holmes, who played wing back for Dagenham and Redbridge FC, paddled the 30-mile crossing from Boulogne-sur-Mer in France to Dungeness on Tuesday, July 21, following just two hours training in a kayak.

The 21-year-old teamed up for the trip with Mike Scott whose four-year-old son Liam has been battling the aggressive childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

L-R: Charlie Holmes, Mike Scott and four-year-old Liam who has been battling the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma. Picture: Charlie HolmesL-R: Charlie Holmes, Mike Scott and four-year-old Liam who has been battling the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma. Picture: Charlie Holmes

Charlie, of Sevenoaks, Kent, said of the moment the pair arrived in England: “We were so tired and cold. But to come up on that beach knowing we have all the money we need was a dream come true. It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve had.”

Charlie and Mike’s seven hour-long journey was the final stage in a £232,000 fundraising drive, meaning Liam’s family now has enough to take part in a US clinical trial that could prevent the cancer’s return.

Liam and Mike just before leaving France. Picture: Charlie HolmesLiam and Mike just before leaving France. Picture: Charlie Holmes

The little fighter is receiving immunotherapy treatment which the family hopes will stop the disease. However, neuroblastoma has a high relapse rate with a less than one in 10 chance of surviving a return.

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The bid for funds started in lockdown after a nurse approached Charlie’s aunt Karen, saying Liam’s parents needed money but had seen their fundraising plans cancelled because of the pandemic.

After donating and delivering food to the family – they had to isolate to protect Liam – supporters turned their attention to raising the money.

L-R: Mike and Charlie back on dry land after the seven hour-long crossing. Picture: Charlie HolmesL-R: Mike and Charlie back on dry land after the seven hour-long crossing. Picture: Charlie Holmes

Fitness fanatic Charlie, whose football career was stalled by a foot injury in 2018, started by running 10 miles a day for 14 days.

“The pain I was going through was nowhere near the pain Liam was going through,” Charlie recalled.

Liam and his little sister Kylie. The family found out that Liam had cancer on the same day Kylie was born. Picture: Scott familyLiam and his little sister Kylie. The family found out that Liam had cancer on the same day Kylie was born. Picture: Scott family

After raising thousands, Mike suggested the cross-Channel kayak. Charlie admitted neither anticipated what they were in for, battling waves and at one point being stopped at sea by a border patrol who suspected they might be migrants.

But they made the crossing and were welcomed home by Liam, family and supporters.

Charlie's fundraising efforts began by running 10 miles a day for 14 days. Picture: Charlie HolmesCharlie's fundraising efforts began by running 10 miles a day for 14 days. Picture: Charlie Holmes

And although Charlie’s shoulders may ache, he said: “It’s all for Liam, so it’s worth it.”

To donate visit solvingkidscancer.org.uk/Appeal/liam


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