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Zac’s fund launched to help more children with cancer

A huge community fundraising effort which captured the imagination of the country and helped a brave Shropshire boy get lifesaving cancer treatment is set to help even more families.

Shropshire Community Foundation will be launching Zac’s Fund – a new scheme to support children with cancer, using money generated from the cash raised to support Zac Oliver.

Zac shot to national prominence five years ago after his family started a campaign to raise £500,000 to travel to Philadelphia for pioneering treatment after the four-year-old youngster was diagnosed with a particularly rare strain of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Donations flooded in from around the country – including £50,000 from Simon Cowell, a £100,000 contribution from a Daily Mail reader and an undisclosed sum from Dire Straits musician Mark Knopfler

The Broseley youngster, who is now nine, remains cancer free and his family today gave their full blessing to the new fund, which will open later in the year.

Mum, Hannah Oliver-Willets said: “We are thrilled that this money which was raised by so many kind-hearted and generous people is now going to help even more children.

“The money raised for Zac will stay in trust, but this new fund means that the fantastic fundraising efforts of so many wonderful people in Shropshire and beyond will continue to bring benefits to children.”

Sonia Roberts, from Shropshire Community Foundation, said the charity was honoured to be the custodian of Zac’s fund.

“This fund will ensure the money raised by the generosity of people across Shropshire will continue to work for children and families in Shropshire with similar stories in perpetuity and provide a wonderful legacy for the success of Zac’s brave battle.

“We are working with a number of local trusts to pool stagnant, redundant or ineffective funds into an endowment fund for Shropshire, with the revenue it generates every year going to support their nominated cause.

“We believe that over time the amount we will distribute will outstrip the value of the fund itself giving a lasting legacy for Zac and the opportunity to support many more children and families that are going through a similar situation. The money in Zac’s fund will remain with only the surplus being granted out to others in need.”

Sonia said the aim of the fund was to provide financial support to children and young people, aged up to and including 21 years of age.

“Funding may be awarded to support their treatment, where it cannot otherwise be obtained free of charge, but also, at the discretion of the fund advisers, on any related expenses, including, but not limited to, respite, travel expenses, educational catch up, and end-of-life palliative care.”

The fund will primarily cover Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, though awards could be made under special circumstances to applicants from outside the county.

The value of awards may vary depending on the need of the individual and will be determined on a case by case basis and applications will be considered at least twice per year.
Sonia added: “Shropshire Community Foundation plays a critical role in bringing together people who have money to give with those who need support the most across Shropshire. The foundation is best placed to engage with individuals, voluntary and charitable organisations across Shropshire reaching those truly in need to get the funding to make significant impact on people’s lives.”

Words: Be Bold Media Pictures: Gavin Dickson