The family of a football-loving 15-year-old Broomhill boy diagnosed with cancer have thanked the Bristol sporting community for helping them smash their target in the first month of a crowdfunding campaign.
Freddie Dixon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after suddenly feeling unwell in January.
He was admitted to Bristol Children’s Hospital in February and has been there ever since as he undergoes a six-month course of chemotherapy.
A crowdfunder was set up to raise money for Freddie and also the Teenage Cancer Trust charity and it has nearly reached £20,000 - double the original target.
Helping the family to raise the money is Phil Wiltshire from Brislington Juniors Football Club, which was founded by Freddie’s grandfather Ted.
Until he became ill in January, Bristol City season ticket holder Freddie played for the under-15s, which is managed by dad Craig.
And it’s the close-knit Bristol football community that has pulled together to help raise much of the money.
Craig says: “We can’t believe the amazing response. There have been around 600 donations, a lot from people who know him, or friends of friends, but also from a lot of people who don’t know him.
“Grassroots football clubs are like families and if there’s a time of need, they come together to help each other.
“The support we’ve had from other clubs across Bristol has been amazing and it shows how much of an asset to communities they are when they get together for important causes.”
As well as support from a number of local grassroots clubs, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Bristol Bears have donated signed shirts to auction off for the fundraiser.
Freddie, who is in year 10 at Oasis Brislington Academy, has just started the third of six chemo sessions. Craig and his wife take it in turns to stay overnight at the hospital so Freddie has company through the week.
Craig says: “He has been resilient and brave but he’s been in hospital for three months and that takes its toll. Apart from a couple of times, he hasn’t left but a few of his friends have been in to see him in reception and they’re always on social media and the phone.”
Craig says Freddie’s illness came out of the blue and the diagnosis was ‘the worst thing you can hear as a parent’.
At the end of January, we were having Sunday lunch and Freddie said he didn’t feel very well and had a temperature.
“Being a typical dad, I joked that he was only trying to get a day off school so we left it for a couple of days but he still had a temperature so we managed to get a doctor’s appointment.
“He was put on antibiotics but he wasn’t any better by the end of the week so we took him to A&E. He was initially diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and put on a course of steroids in hospital.
“He came home for one night and his temperature was sky high and so he went straight back to A&E. They did more tests and then they confirmed he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Craig says the money raised will provide support to other children and families having to go through the same journey.
The money raised will be divided between the Teenage Cancer Trust charity and supporting Freddie so he has something to look forward to at the end of his treatment plan.
“Some of the money will be for Freddie so it’s something positive for him to look forward to at the end of his treatment, perhaps he will put some away for driving lessons. He’s going to miss a lot of schooling but also a lot of things 15-year-olds normally do.
“But we also wanted to raise money for a good cause to help other people going through what we are.”
To donate to Freddie’s fundraiser, click here.