Paignton brain tumour girl, 8, completes charity fundraiser challenge

Leah Martin

Leah Martin - Credit: Archant

An eight-year-old Paignton girl, who has been left with long-term side effects following surgery and treatment for a brain tumour, has completed a gruelling physical challenge to raise money to help find a cure.

Jasmine, Wayne, Joanne and Leah Martin

Jasmine, Wayne, Joanne and Leah Martin - Credit: Archant

Leah Martin of Haytor Avenue is the inspiration behind Leah's Fairy Fund, set up by her family to raise funds for the charity Brain Tumour Research, after Leah was diagnosed with a high-grade medulloblastoma at the age of two.

Several operations, as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, have left the youngster with long-term side effects including problems with her speech and mobility.

Mum Joanne said: 'Leah found completing 26 squats each day for five days as part of the charity's 2.6 Challenge fundraising drive very demanding.

'She has mobility and balance issues which made it very hard for her, but was so determined.

Leah Martin with her family

Leah Martin with her family - Credit: Archant

'We are so grateful for everyone who has donated and can't quite believe that her fundraiser has already attracted more than £660.

'Meanwhile, in lockdown, I am focusing on teaching Leah, who has severe learning difficulties and can't read or write her own name, some valuable life skills.

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'We have been reading stories and practising writing, doing lots of cooking, including baking fairy buns and a loaf of bread, as well as making things including a rainbow out of tissue paper and another out of hearts, and some stained-glass windows.

'As a family we had all set ourselves fundraising challenges this year.

'I was 40 in January and decided to enter the ballot for a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon as this year was the 40th one. I got a place but obviously the event has now been postponed until October.

'We are very aware charities have been put in financial jeopardy because of coronavirus and none more so than Brain Tumour Research which is not classed as 'frontline' and therefore does not quality for Government assistance at this time.

'Leah's big sister, Jasmine, 12, and their daddy Wayne, an IT and engineering manager at Luscombe Drinks, had signed up to do the South West Uphill Quarry Abseil near Bristol at the end of May but this has also been postponed.

'We are so grateful for all the support we have had over the years since setting up Leah's Fairy Fund and were very proud to have put up seven tiles on the Wall of Hope at the Centre of Excellence within the University of Plymouth in January this year, signifying the equivalent of seven days of research sponsored as a result.

'We hope that one day a cure will be found so that no more children will have to go through what Leah has.'

Brain Tumour Research spokesman Hugh Adams said: 'It's impossible not to be touched by Leah's story and, sadly, she is not alone – some 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year and, despite the fact they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

'Like many organisations the coronavirus pandemic has meant a massive financial hit for us, particularly with the cancellation and/or postponement of challenges like the London Marathon, and we are anticipating a loss of 50 per cent of income in the following three months. We are very grateful to Leah and her family and the many others who are helping us through these difficult times.'

To donate to Leah's fundraising go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Leah-squats