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Heartbroken parents' plea for people to share in Charlie's final journey
THE family of brave “soldier” Charlie Harris-Beard, whose courageous leukaemia battle touched the hearts of a nation, want people to “share the last part of his journey” during a celebration of his life today.
The inspirational two-year-old tragically lost his brave fight against the disease last Friday, after his health deteriorated days after developing pneumonia.
The special celebration of his life will be held at St Mary’s Church, Kidderminster at 3pm, followed by a private family service at Wyre Forest Crematorium.
Charlie, who tugged at the heartstrings of thousands of people around the world, is now set to leave a lasting legacy through the charity Cords4Life, set up by his parents, Joe Beard and Fiona Harris, to raise awareness of umbilical cord donations.
A successful bone marrow transplant using an umbilical cord from an American baby saved the youngster’s life in 2011.
His family are urging people to sign an e-petition, to increase awareness and availability of umbilical cord donations, which has already attracted more than 20,000 signatures. They are hoping to get another 80,000 signatures so it can be debated in Parliament.
The family have requested no dress or colour code for today’s service and hundreds of family, friends and people who have followed Charlie’s brave journey are expected to fill St Mary’s wearing his favourite colours – blue and purple – to remember the “little fighter”.
His parents posted on Charlie’s facebook page, Help Save Baby Charlie HarrisBeard, which has more the 50,000 likes: “We have shared every part of Charlie’s journey with you andmany of you have grown to love Charlie... so we would like to share the last part of the journey by inviting you to celebrate Charlie’s life.”
Thousands of people were devastated when the news of Charlie’s death was announced after his parents posted on twitter: “Heaven gained another angel today as our little soldier Charles Joseph Harris-Beard peacefully passed away 14:04 #restinpeacelittlesoldier.”
The youngster was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia on Easter Sunday, 2011. His parents made a desperate plea for bone marrow donors in The Shuttle and described him as their “little soldier” for being “so happy”.
Charlie, who was best man at his parents’ wedding in November, returned home from hospital in January, 2012, following a successful bone marrow transplant.
But in November last year he was given just weeks to live after test results revealed his cancer had returned. He was due to undergo an experimental treatment, but it had to be postponed after he developed pneumonia.
Charlie and his family have now been nominated for the Pride of Britain Awards 2013, only given to a child or adult who has displayed remarkable courage.
The family has decided not to have flowers at his funeral but, instead, are asking people to make a donation to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital or Worcestershire Orchard Services, which looked after Charlie at home during his last few months.
People can make a donation online at justgiving.com/ Charlie-Harris-Beard.
They can also sign the e-petition at epetitions.direct.gov. uk/petitions/45622.
Meanwhile, events are being held in Charlie’s memory.
People can light a lantern wherever they are tomorrow at 8pm, while balloons will be released on Sunday at 2pm at St George’s Park.