Show your support for Sun appeal and help kids like leukaemia patient Archie, 9

He would like some Lego and yet another football shirt, pretty standard stuff for a nine-year-old boy.

The one present he hasn’t added, is his wish to spend Christmas at home with his family.

Archie told us: “I always get up at 7am to open presents. That’s what time we’re allowed to wake mum and dad up. Then we open presents in the living room and have turkey dinner and chocolate gateau.”

But this year, Archie faces being one of the thousands of boys and girls who will hang their stockings at the end of hospital beds.

That’s why we are calling on our generous readers to donate to our Christmas Toy Appeal to spread a little cheer to these courageous youngsters.

The Sun on Sunday has joined forces with Children With Cancer UK to buy presents for children in six hospitals around the UK, including Leeds Children’s Hospital, where Archie is being treated. Prior to being diagnosed with leukaemia this summer, Archie spent most of his free time kicking a ball.

Robbed of such pleasure, and without school to fill the hours, days stuck in hospital can stretch out endlessly.

At Leeds there is plenty of entertainment for the youngsters and the nurses are always ready with a palette of facepaints.

But nothing beats the joy of getting a new toy.

Archie’s dad, Andy, 42, from Hull, said: “His face lights up when he gets something to play with, he is bored stiff sometimes. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it costs.

"Even a pack of cards can make the world of difference when you’re trying to find things to do to fill the time.

“If he’s not poorly or tired, then we try to keep him out of bed and doing things, but it is hard for them all. They need new distractions.”

Archie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in August.

At first, Andy and his wife Tina, 39, who works in recruitment, believed he had shingles, a painful viral skin rash.

But when the tiredness and pain in his arms meant he missed football they knew it was something more serious.

Archie is currently undergoing his third round of chemotherapy.

The treatments have caused his hair to fall out and he’s had bouts of sickness and diarrhoea. But life for the 4,500 children and young people who are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK is rarely straight forward.

Infections and side effects are part and parcel of life, as are the cancelled trips home and missed celebrations.

Archie spent Halloween, Bonfire Night and his birthday in hospital, which Andy dubs a “friendly prison.”

Yet, dressed in his beloved Hull Kingston Rovers rugby top, Archie beams with pride as he shows off his string of more than 250 “Leeds Cares Beads of Courage”, each earned after undergoing a medical procedure.

At home, Archie’s four-year-old sister, Alice, and twin, Connie, are missing him dreadfully.

Tina said: “If Connie was here now, she would be stuck to his side. They are so close "One of the hardest things is that she refuses to go to places where they used to go together because it’s not the same without Archie.

“I feel like our family has been put in a blender. Hopefully, one day, we’ll be back to normal again, but at the moment, everything’s up in the air.”


YOU can donate to The Sun on Sunday Christmas Toy Appeal at the Children With Cancer JustGiving page:

Or text a donation. Text SUN2 to donate £2, SUN5 to donate £5 or SUN10 to donate £10 to 70722. Texts cost your chosen donation amount plus your standard network rate.

By texting, you consent to future SMS contact from Children With Cancer UK. Text SUN2 NO, SUN5 NO or SUN10 NO
to 70722 to opt out of further communication.

Andy and Tina pass like ships in the night, taking it in turns to travel the M62 to be with Archie, while the other stays with the girls.

For families like theirs, Christmas shopping is an added burden.

Andy, a buyer for an energy company, said: “When you have a child in hospital, Christmas shopping is just not a priority.

"You don’t want to leave your child to go to the shops, and I don’t know how I would get into the spirit of it.

“The Sun on Sunday’s appeal will not only mean so much to children like Archie, but to their parents as well.”

Harri's story

Inspirational Harri Tor, 14, won’t let anything get him down.

Not even the possibility of spending Christmas in Leeds Children’s Hospital.

He said: “No one wants to be here at Christmas but the nurses do everything they can to make things special.

"For fireworks night, we had sparklers in the courtyard, and there are going to reindeer coming for Christmas.”

In January, Harri, suffered a fall while playing football, something the family thank their lucky stars happened.

He said: “I’d had pain in my leg for a while but when I slipped, it swelled up and the pain became excruciating.

"I didn’t tell my mum at first because I didn’t want her to worry her.”

The swelling was actually a malignant tumour, caused by the bone cancer osteosarcoma, which has also spread to his lungs.

His lower leg was amputated and it’s testament to Harri’s courage in the face of difficulty that he now revels in having pictures painted on his stump.

With a black humour beyond his years, he has named his Instagram account, One Foot in the Grave and he has a new dream – to become a Paralympic swimmer.

At one time, during chemotherapy, Harri would vomit every 20 minutes.

The worst side effect are the mouth ulcers, which sting to such an extent he can’t talk or eat.

And early next year, he will have an operation to remove the cancerous nodes in his lungs.

For parents like Erica, having a child in hospital far from their home in Hull can also put an extra burden on finances.

Erica, who has stopped working as nursery nurse to care for Harri, is lucky that she can stay in her son’s room.

Other families in the same position often fork out for accommodation.

Plus there’s the cost of petrol, as well as parking, and new clothes to wear with a prosthetic leg.

Erica is urging Sun on Sunday readers to support our Christmas Toy Appeal and bring a little festive cheer to youngsters facing a difficult Christmas.

She said: “I’d ask readers to help as much as they can and just help remember, it is cancer and these children need all the help they can get for what they’re going through.

"Harri might look brave but underneath, he’s still just a boy.

Celebs back Sun appeal

Last night celebrities urged our kindhearted readers to dig deep and back the Sun on Sunday Christmas Toy Appeal.

Rod Stewart said: “As a father of eight, The Sun on Sunday’s Christmas appeal is one close to my heart.

"Your generous donations will provide toys to children in hospital cancer wards around the UK and make immeasurable differences to the lives of these little fighters battling this awful disease.

"Please dig deep and make their Christmas dreams come true.”

Susanna Reid said: “A wonderful campaign … Spending Christmas in hospital is particularly hard for children – but you can make their Christmas so much better with a present that will put a smile on a youngster’s face.”

Vicky Pattison said: “Each and every one of us has experienced cancer, whether that is themselves or through a loved one, which is why it’s so important that we work together and help The Sun on Sunday to raise money for such a worthwhile cause.”

Strictly’s Katie Piper said: “Cancer is something my family has unfortunately had to experience, so I know how vital it is to help charities like Children With Cancer UK. Thank you to The Sun on Sunday for your great work in raising awareness.”

Judge Rinder said: “It’s another example of The Sun on Sunday showing the good work it does.

"It’s really important at Christmas to spend time with family – but it’s also important to remember those that are less fortunate than ourselves and to do what we can to do our bit to help.”

Lorraine Kelly said: “It’s heartbreaking to think of children in hospital at this time of year.

"So we all need to help Santa and donate what we can to The Sun on Sunday’s terrific campaign.

"You can make a little one struggling with illness know that they are loved and that’s what Christmas is all about.”

Love Islander Eyal Booker said: “I am proud to support The Sun on Sunday’s Christmas appeal to raise money for presents for children with cancer that are in hospital this Christmas. Life isn’t always fair but we can help these children.”

Sian Lloyd said: I’m thrilled to back the Sun on Sunday Christmas Toy Appeal and bring some sunny smiles to the faces of those children in hospital over Christmas.”

Loose Women’s Kaye Adams: “Every child wants to be home for Christmas but if they can’t be, a gift to let them know they’re in our thoughts can make all the difference.

"Please give what you can."

Loose Women’s Linda Robson said: “Please find it in your heart to dig deep to help children with cancer who are in need of cheering up this Christmas.

"You know when us parents and families say, ‘You don’t know how lucky we are’. But we are. We have healthy children. Please donate. Let’s put a smile back on the face of these children.”

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