A brave six-year-old girl whose fight against a rare and aggressive cancer launched a Daily Express crusade has died.
Little Beau and her mum Shirley Hepworth shared the harrowing story of her neuroblastoma diagnosis in January.
It kicked off a campaign calling on the Government to help fund a trial of a promising cancer vaccine to combat the disease, which originates in nerve cells but can affect tissue and organs.
Beau and Shirley were among dozens of British families who have fundraised to travel to the US to receive the treatment. They won the hearts of thousands and raised more than £650,000.
But tragically the youngster’s cancer relapsed before she could access the vaccine. Beau died on Sunday, a fortnight before her seventh birthday.
In a social media update, Shirley said she had spent “one last heavenly night with my beautiful Beau”. She added: “As you relaxed, after that last breath I felt your relief, I saw your peace.
“You have been one awesome little girl Beau Beau. You are without doubt going to be one kick ass angel.”
Hundreds of supporters shared tributes including Beau and Shirley’s MP, Kim Leadbeater. The member for Batley and Spen said: “Beau was a beautiful little girl, with a wonderful smile and a bubbly personality. She coped with the awful effects of her cancer with incredible bravery.
“Her mum Shirley, sister Redd and grandma June gave her all the love and support in the world and couldn’t have done more for her. My heart goes out to them at this unbelievably difficult time.
Ms Leadbeater said Beau’s battle with neuroblastoma had “touched thousands of people not just locally but across Yorkshire and the whole country”.
She added: “The best tribute we can pay to Beau’s courage is to keep up the pressure for investment in the research that could help prevent other families having to go through such dreadful pain and sadness in the future.”
Around 50 children are diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma every year in the UK and have only a 50/50 chance of survival.
The vaccine, developed at New York clinic, is given after frontline treatment and aims to stop the disease returning.
Beau was diagnosed aged four after suffering stomach pains and Shirley had hoped to take for the jab this summer.
The Express Back Britain to Beat Childhood Cancer crusade is urging the Government to help fund the European arm of a transatlantic trial. This would allow children to access the vaccine here and prove whether it works.
An estimated £10-15 million is needed for the UK to spearhead the study and British experts and ready and willing to step up.
Gail Jackson, chief executive of charity Solving Kids’ Cancer UK, which is supporting our campaign, said: “Beau’s legacy is built upon values that Beau and her family have inspired us all with throughout their cancer journey and fundraising campaign.
“It is these values that SKC UK are committed to honouring – as Beau’s legacy, to ensure that we manage the funds so carefully donated by Beau’s supporters in the best way, to enable us to support as many children as we can.”