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Community rallies round in support of seriously ill Tain Royal Academy pupil


By Hector MacKenzie

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Ben Hickman
Ben Hickman

THE plight of a plucky Highland boy diagnosed with cancer during the coronavirus crisis has spurred a massive community response to support his family – and a charity helping him and other sick kids.

And a solicitor, whose firm has an office in Tain, where Ben Hickman (12) goes to school, is also chipping in with a generous offer of his own.

Ben, who lives in Balintore, had not long started S1 at Tain Royal Academy when his family received the devastating news that he has a large cancerous Sarcoma tumour.

The diagnosis – sparking gruelling rounds of chemotherapy at Aberdeen Children's Hospital before plans for an operation to remove the tumour in Glasgow – has turned the Hickmans' world upside down.

Mum Lisa and dad John, who run a scaffolding business, are juggling home life with being available around-the-clock for Ben during a stay in Aberdeen expected to take them into January. A gofundme page set up by loved ones has already provided a fighting fund to meet the family's unexpected extra travelling and living expenses.

And in a touching show of support, legal firm Georgesons has offered to waive their usual Will writing fees up until November 27 in return for donations to The Archie Foundation, a charity which works to make seriously sick children's hospital stays more comfortable.

Speaking from Aberdeen where she is currently based, Ben's mum Lisa said: "He is doing okay. He is on his fourth round of chemo. Everyone has been great and The Archie Foundation are amazing. They do everything they can to help children and even offer a teacher to help them with their homework."

Ben, who is also keen for other sick kids to benefit through donations to Archie, is continuing with his school lessons through Google Classroom and even managing to challenge pals back home to Xbox games from his hospital bed.

Mrs Hickman said she was happy to hear about the Georgesons' fundraiser for Archie, adding: "It turns your life upside down. What we have to do is get on with it. It's like a little family at the hospital as we are all in the same boat.

Bruce de Wert: 'Making a Will is straightforward.'
Bruce de Wert: 'Making a Will is straightforward.'

Georgesons said: "We have chosen The Archie Foundation because we recently learned about Ben. The Archie Foundation help to provide specialist equipment for children like Ben. It also helps to support families, to create amazing hospital environments, enhance staff training, buy toys, fund research and provide specialist staff."

The firm has a suggested a voluntarily donation to the charity of £80 for a single Will and £100 for a pair of Wills. The generous offer runs until November 27.

Bruce de Wert, principal at Georgesons, said: “Making a Will is straightforward, simple and an important way of protecting family and loved ones in the future so it is surprising that less than 50 per cent of people have made one.”

Declan McGinley, associate solicitor at Georgesons, said: “It can take years to sort out someone’s estate if they die without a Will and I have seen a great deal of distress which is needless and can be easily avoided.”

For further information or to make an appointment to make a Will, call Georgesons on 01862 892555.

Ben's grandmother Ruby Hickman meanwhile has staged her own poignant fundraiser by scaling Ben Bhraggie. She chose the famous Sutherland peak because its meaning – rough and unsmooth – symbolises the uphill challenge now faced by her family.

For the gofundme page set up for the Hickmans, see shorturl.at/aeqFI



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