HE is the little boy who has touched the heart of the nation.
And Scarborough gave a hero’s welcome to Bradley Lowery when he visited with his family.
A smiling Bradley, who is battling childhood cancer neuroblastoma, was guest of honour as 30,000 people turned out for Armed Forces Day, with a grandstand view from the balcony of the Town Hall as the RAF Falcons parachute display team dropped onto the beach, and later a spectacular show by the Red Arrows, which he found “mesmerising.”
Chairman of the Armed Forces Day group Tom Fox said the six-year-old “absolutely loved it” – and was fascinated by the VIPs’ accoutrements. “He was very keen on the (police) Superintendent’s hat with the gold braid and he wore it for ages and he took the sword off Major Scrope, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire,” said Mr Fox.
“He had one of those fidget spinners with him and he was showing us how to properly use them – he could spin it on one finger. If you didn’t know he was ill you wouldn’t spot it.”
The family had been due to take a trip to Disney World, but were forced to cancel when the terminally ill youngster’s health took a turn for the worse.
John Senior, chairman of the South Bay Traders and national coordinator for Heroes Welcome UK, which organised two days of activities for the family from Blackhall, near Hartlepool – including a private tour of the Sealife Centre and fish and chips at the Golden Grid – said: “What makes it so special was Scarborough coming together not only to support Armed Forces Day, but to recognise the courage and bravery of this very inspiring individual.
“I’ve been in the armed forces most of my adult life and you recognise courage when you see it. He was very smiley, very happy, full of jokes. His mum and the support group were absolutely delightful.”
Mum Gemma said they’d had lots of fun on their week-long visit to the region. Writing on Bradley Lowery’s Fight Facebook page last week, she said: “He is awake for about four to five hours a day, which is plenty of time to have fun.
“We were told three weeks ago he had weeks to live and he is still going.
“I am so proud of him, he is my little superstar.
“I know he could change any day now and when that time comes it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but for now we are making the most of everything.”
It comes as a song released for Bradley, pictured inset, climbed to number three the iTunes chart. Year 1 children from Blackhall Colliery Primary School teamed up with Hartlepool singing sisters Liv’n’G to record Smile for Bradley in support of their poorly friend.
All proceeds are going to the Bradley Lowery Foundation. Mr Fox said: “His mum talked about her hopes for the charity. Obviously Bradley wanted to go to Disney World, but by the time the money was in place he wasn’t well enough. What they want to do is for other children with terminal illnesses to get away and do their ‘bucket’ wishes.”
The youngster’s life changed at 18 months when he was diagnosed with the rare cancer that affects around 100 children in the UK every year. After treatment he went into remission, but he relapsed last July. Football-mad Bradley has regularly been a Sunderland mascot, and has struck up a friendship with his idol Jermain Defoe.