An interview with Gemma Lowery of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, by Callum McFadden for WFi. To support the Foundation click here.
Your son Bradley inspired football fans up and down the country with his passion for football, his incredibly upbeat personality and his positive spirit. How proud are you of him and the memories that he made even when he was facing an illness that no child should ever have to face?
“I’m extremely proud of Bradley. He did more in his short six years of life than most people do in a full lifetime.
“He raised a huge amount of awareness for childhood cancer and his legacy still helps children get access to treatment that they would not normally have got access to on the NHS.
“Bradley did not know much more than being poorly and being in pain but despite that, he lived every single day of his life to the maximum.
“He adored football and getting to go out on to the football pitch was great. He loved the attention of those moments as he wanted to become a footballer and in his short life had opportunities to do so.
“The whole footballing community fell in love with him and I am so proud to call him my son. His legacy will live on forever.”
You set up the Bradley Lowery Foundation in his honour and have raised millions of pounds so far. What are the types of support that the foundation provide?
“The Bradley Lowery foundation supports children who need access to cancer treatments that are not available on the NHS, and to support the child’s general welfare by providing them with a specialised bed or a wheelchair. We aim to support families who need support with whatever is required.
“We raised £1.4 million while Bradley was still here. That money was used to set up the foundation.
“We have also helped others to raise over £3 million since Bradley’s passing to help similar causes and we ensure that 100% of the money raised by our campaigns goes to those for causes who require the support.
“We also provide emotional support to the family throughout the process that they are going through and experiencing.
“I am passionate about the need for research into childhood cancer. It is vital that we are able to get safer and more effective treatments.
“Some abroad that are shown to have effectiveness abroad are not yet available in the UK and we want to try and change that.
“We realise and fully understand that the NHS may not be able to fund them, but that’s where we want to play a part in doing all that we can to give children the best possible chance of survival by fundraising to help families.
“We have also built sensory rooms and support children with a range of different needs, too. We are set to build a five-bedroom holiday home in Scarborough to support families who have children with long term illnesses.
“We wanted it to be five bedrooms as we want the child’s extended family to be able to go with them. It will be free of charge to families and we will also help with travel too.
“I want the foundation to make as much of a positive difference to others as possible. I make sure that I am available at all times to support anyone who requires advice or guidance over the phone or by meeting up with them during the tough times that any cancer diagnosis brings.
“I have been through the journey with Bradley and people know that they can speak to me about how they are feeling.
“I am not a medical expert but I can offer a listening ear and aim to support them in any way that I can.”
Jermain Defoe is a patron of the foundation. His friendship with Bradley was beautiful. How much did it mean to you as a mother for Bradley to have support from one of his heroes and to have his support with the foundation?
“Bradley absolutely loved him. The friendship that they built was beautiful. They came from different cultures and backgrounds but connected through the love of football.
“Bradley’s face would light up as soon as he saw Jermain and all he would want to do was cuddle him and talk football.
“To see that relationship first hand is something incredibly special and something that I will never forget.
“Jermain is a family friend and he has stayed in contact with us. We still speak regularly and meet up every so often.
“He has been a great support to all of us and we are so grateful that he gave his time to help make Bradley’s last few months as positive as they could be given the pain that he was in.”
Finally, Gemma, the foundation continues to raise money for numerous good causes. How can readers support the charity in achieving its aims going forward?
“Like all charities, we have been hit hard by Covid as fundraising events stopped for so long.
“We are currently working with 20 families and donations are vital to ensure that we can continue to do the work that is needed.
“Building the holiday home for families who have a child with a long term illness to go to is a big priority to us at the moment.
“If anyone can support us with that then we would be incredibly grateful. Even if it is someone who is able to give up their free time to help with the project or assist us with the purchasing of materials.
“Cash donations are always key to any charity and if shops are able to have our charity tub in their store or if anyone is able to run a fundraiser for us then we would be incredibly grateful.
“We have now received approval to be able to support adults with cancer too because we know how stretched the NHS is due to Covid and the cost of that and we are going to be working with the Rutherford cancer centres which offer support across the UK to those affected by cancer.
“Every little bit of help matters and if you are able to offer any support at all then please visit our website: https://bradleyloweryfoundation.com/“