As families across the North East look forward to the weekend, today marks a sad milestone for one family who have remained brave in the wake of a huge loss.
Friday, May 17, is what would have been Bradley Lowery’s eighth birthday.
The young football fan lost his life in July 2017 following a fight with neuroblastoma cancer, just months after turning six.
Despite his illness, Bradley’s smile rarely faltered and his bravery inspired countless people across the country and beyond.
On a day filled with sadness for all who knew and loved him, mum Gemma has spoken of her grief and how she finds the strength to continue her work on the most difficult of days.
In the wake of her son’s death, Gemma and her family set up the Bradley Lowery Foundation so they could dedicate their time to supporting other children with their own fundraising and awareness campaigns.
To date, the charity has celebrated a number of success stories in helping families hit their fundraising targets to help pay for treatment or equipment.
Bradley lived in Blackhall with his mum, dad Carl and brother Kieran. The Foundation is now based there.
Gemma said: “On special occasions, like Bradley’s birthday, my grief is overwhelming; it feels like the day I lost him all over again.
“It’s hard to feel that much pain while still being in the public eye.
“What I’ve learned now, is that it’s OK to cry, scream or shout; it’s OK to have bad days, as long as I don’t get stuck there.”
Earlier in the spring, the foundation confirmed the launch of a support line for parents and carers of children with cancer.
Its aim was to put these adults in touch with trained counsellors, so they can receive help with their own struggles.
Gemma said she was inspired by her own experiences to provide a service that “bridged that gap” to provide much-needed emotional support.
Last month, the Bradley Lowery Foundation team also had planning permission approved to build a holiday home in Scarborough.
The North Yorkshire town was a special place for the six-year-old and his family. It was one of the last places they visited on holiday together.
Gemma continued: “I know it will be one of those bad days, when my baby would have been turning eight, but I’m surrounding myself with my friends and family who always get me through it.
“I try to remember the good times, but also to think about all the fantastic things we’re doing in Bradley’s memory, to help poorly children and their families across the UK.”
One this is for certain; Bradley’s legacy continues to grow as children are supported by the charity in his name. His memory becomes part of more families’ futures, and will never be forgotten.