A huge community fund raising effort to provide cancer treatment to a brave Shropshire boy is now helping even more families and organisations support children and young people with cancer.

Shropshire Community Foundation is overseeing grants from Zac’s Fund which was originally set up to help Zac Oliver of Broseley get pioneering cancer treatment in the USA.

Zac’s family started the campaign in 2018 to raise £500,000 to travel to Philadelphia for treatment after the four-year-old was diagnosed with a rare strain of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Donations flooded in from across the country and Zac was able to receive the treatment. He is now aged nine and remains cancer free.

The legacy from the huge fund-raising effort for Zac is now being used by Shropshire Community Foundation, with the permission of Zac’s family, to provide financial support to children and young people with cancer.

The foundation has recently announced its first awardees of grants from Zac’s Fund sharing out £15,000 between three charities working with children with cancer and three individuals.

These include £3,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust to help fund an outreach clinical nurse specialist in supporting teenagers and young adults with cancer in Shropshire.

The Tom Bowdidge Cancer Foundation also received £3,000 to work with young cancer patients and their families through care support packages in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. The foundation was set up in 2014 in memory of Tom Bowdidge who died in 2013 at the age of 19 of desmoplastic small round cell tumour.

The Joshua Tree charity has also received a £3,000 grant. It provides bespoke programmes of support to the families of those affected by childhood cancers including therapeutic and counselling support.

Three individuals have been awarded grants from Zac’s Fund. These include £1,500 to provide private tutoring for five-year-old with cancer to help her move into Year 1 of school and £1,500 to provide an 8-year-old cancer patient with a birthday to remember.

A further £3,000 grant has been given to provide essential physiotherapy sessions for a young cancer patient at the centre which helps supports him.

Zac’s mother Hannah said that her family was delighted to be able to continue Zac’s Fund through the Shropshire Community Foundation.

“We have really enjoyed being able to award much deserving and needing charities and families with funds to help on their cancer journey. When you are faced with such a devastating diagnosis for your child, and feel the world is against you, sometimes all you need in those difficult times, is a helping hand, which is where we come in to try and help provide support through interventions, education, charities, days out, research, treatments etc.

“Reviewing the applications is such a hard and yet rewarding process, and we hope Zac’s fund will live on to help many people in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin for years to come,” she said.

Shropshire Community Foundation trustee Sonia Roberts MBE said: “We were honoured to become the custodian of Zac’s Fund. Our aim was to ensure that the money given so generously by the people of Shropshire to help Zac continued to support young people in similar circumstances.

“We hope that our first set of grants from Zac’s Fund will be the start of a lasting legacy for children and young people in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin in their battle with cancer,” she said.

The fund covers Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin although awards can be made under special circumstances to applicants from outside the county.

Shropshire Community Foundation is hoping to open the fund for grant applications again later in the year. Information is available at www.shropshirecommunityfoundation.org.uk

 Zac and his mother Hannah. Photo by Be Bold Media.