The memory of a schoolgirl whose life was cut short by cancer lives on in an inspirational charity.
On the dawn of the first anniversary of Erin Bates’ death, her family and friends have formed a registered charity in her name.
Inspired By Erin pays homage to the 12-year-old’s passion for sport, providing a pathway into sport and physical activity for children and young people who’ve received treatment for cancer.
Erin, from Ayton, Washington, was a keen footballer who played for Washington AFC Wildcats, but an eight-month course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to combat a brain tumour hindered her ability to play.
Dad Simon, 37, said: “When Erin was nearing the end of her treatment she tried to get back into football, but she really struggled because of the physical and mental differences between her and the rest of the team.”
Erin threw herself into fund-raising, despite battling illness. Prior to her death on July 15 last year, she’d organised a football match at Durham County Football Association in Chester-le-Street which raised £5,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. An event which continued last year in the months after her death.
This new charity is an extension of the Oxclose Community Academy pupil’s desire to help others.
“We’ve raised money for other charities,” said Simon, who is married to Kirsty. “But this offers a more bespoke service, because it’s specifically aimed at children who have undergone treatment for cancer and means they can take part in sport and physical activity in an environment suitable for their needs.
“It means they can do a sport of their choice, whether that be horse-riding, archery or go-karting, whatever they want to do, with their brothers and sisters.”
Inspired by Erin has been founded, along with Simon, by family friends, Tina Reed, Alison Douglas and Chris Ridley.
Other family and friends have rallied round to get the fund-raising off to a flying start.
Simon and daughter Olivia, seven, took part in the Sunderland Big Bike Ride at the weekend, while a team of 14 people took on the Three Peaks Challenge to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24hrs, raising more than £2,000.
Erin’s teammates from Washington AFC Wildcats also took on the recent Race For Life in her memory.
Meanwhile, Erin’s big sister Lauren, 16, is preparing to do a bungee jump at HMS Calliope, on the River Tyne, on June 28. Other events planned include this weekend’s Lambton Run, a zip wire, C2C and various runs, as well as the Great North Run.
Having raised almost £14,000 for other charities in the past two years, Erin’s Marathon Match will take place for the third time on August 29 to help provide funds for her own charity.
To further boost their efforts, the cause has been chosen by House of Fraser Metrocentre and house builder Taylor Wimpey as their official charity for the year.
l Anyone interested in learning more about the charity’s work can visit www.inspiredbyerin.org.uk or Facebook page facebook.com/erinslegacy.