"Please, please, give me no presents for Christmas"
A schoolboy is asking Santa not to bring him any presents this year but to give the money to a charity which cares for his best friend’s little cousin who is seriously ill.
Luke Bedford, 8, from Knebworth, Hertfordshire, wrote the selfless note after discovering Orla Hermitage, 6, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, has a brain tumour.
Luke says his wish this Christmas is for the money to go the two charities which cared for the little girl and other seriously ill children like her.
“My best friend Thomas told me his cousin has cancer. I don’t really know what it is, but I know it’s bad. I don’t want any presents I just want money to go to charity to help Orla and other people, and so my friend can have a cousin,” says Luke.
In the letter, Luke writes: “Dear Mrs Claus and Mr Claus, aka Santa. The only thing I want for Christmas is money for charity. Please may you give it to Keech Hospice and Sick Children because I have a friend Thomas who has a cousin who is currently suffering from cancer and I want my friend to have a cousin and other people. Please, please, please give me no presents for Christmas, love Luke.”
Luke’s mum, Tanya Bedford, 41, says she was completely bowled over by her son’s selfless act.
“I thought Luke might put something in the letter like ‘if you could still get me this or that’, but he didn’t. Luke and Thomas talk a lot about Orla’s illness and after Thomas mentioned Orla at Cubs group, Luke decided he wanted to help.
“My husband Darren and I (48) are so surprised by the letter. We’re beyond proud. I don’t think Luke knows much about cancer, but he does know it is a horrible thing.”
Luke and his family have since set up a crowdfunding page so that anyone can donate to Keech Hospice Care, their local children’s hospice, and to the Sick Children’s Trust which has also supported Orla. The page has already raised £1,500 from friends and complete strangers in just over a week.
Hanging in the balance
Orla was diagnosed with cancer at 10 months old. Her parents Susan and Simon Hermitage, both 37, says it’s worrying times as they wait to hear if more chemotherapy is working after the family discovered the tumour had grown again in May this year.
“We’ll find out just a few days before Christmas if Orla’s chemo is working. There’s a lot hanging in the balance. We desperately want to celebrate Christmas, but we’re very aware it might be our last with Orla. We’re hoping we’ll see some reduction in the tumour, but I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. Orla’s been so poorly the last few weeks I’m just not sure,” says Susan.
“It’s so sweet to hear about Luke’s letter and we’re touched by it. It’s utterly selfless and an extraordinary thing for a little boy to do. We’re so pleased Luke’s asked Santa to help Keech Hospice Care as it’s a remarkable charity. It’s been there for us since Orla was diagnosed as a baby and supported our whole family through our absolute darkest days. When Orla suffered a brain haemorrhage and we thought she was going to die - Keech Hospice Care was there.
“Unless you’re in this world there’s no way you can understand it. I’ve had to give up everything; my job, my freedom, my social life, I don’t really see many people because I’m pretty much housebound with Orla most of the time.
“The nurses at Keech Hospice Care come to our home and take care of Orla when she’s really poorly, they give me a bit of time to myself and Eddie the chance to spend time with other children who are in the same situation as he is. They even co-ordinate Orla’s care from hospitals and her GP so that, in those darkest hours, I don’t have to be the one on the phone trying to sort it out.”
To donate to Keech Hospice Care this Christmas Text ORLA17 and either £5, £10 or £20 to 70070 or visit Luke’s crowdfunding page.