Campaign to name polar ship after Thetford girl Poppy-Mai sees 34,000 votes cast - putting it second behind Boaty McBoatface

Andy Barnard with his daughter, Poppy-Mai.

Andy Barnard with his daughter, Poppy-Mai. - Credit: Archant

A public vote to name a polar research ship has seen more than 30,000 votes cast for it to be named after a Thetford girl diagnosed with cancer, putting it in second place behind Boaty McBoatface.

An artist impression issued by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of a new state-of-the

An artist impression issued by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of a new state-of-the-art polar research ship. The campaign to name the ship Boaty McBoatface may be heading for the rocks, after Science minister Jo Johnson said he wanted something that "captures the spirit of scientific endeavour". Photo: NERC/PA Wireholder. - Credit: PA

Earlier this year the Natural Environment Research Council launched a campaign to name its £200m research vessel. RRS Boaty McBoatface won with 124,109 votes and Poppy-Mai came second with 34,371 votes.

Last month 16-month-old Poppy-Mai Barnard from Thetford was diagnosed with incurable malignant rhabdoid cancer. The disease spread to her kidney, lungs and brain - leading to a flood of donations and pledges of support.

The £200 million research vessel is not guaranteed to be christened the winning suggestion, Boaty Mcboatface - that final decision lies with science minister Jo Johnson.

And he suggested that ministers were unlikely to go for Boaty McBoatface. 'You won't be surprised to know that we want something that fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavour,' he told the Telegraph. 'I am grateful to everyone who has participated in the competition.'

He added: 'The public has come up with some fantastic and very imaginative suggestions [for the name]. We are reviewing all of them. We will come to a decision in due course.'

As a sign on how Poppy-Mai is being supported by the people of Thetford, a fun day was held at Pine Close Community Centre today.

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The event saw stalls, facepainting, a children's drawing competition and a raffle with dozens of donated items.

There was also a silent auction for prizes of a paintballing experience and a specially made Poppy-Mai cake.

The event culminated with a balloon release, with messages of support to Poppy-Mai attached to the balloons.

The fun day was organised by Hollie Bain, 24, her sister Samantha, 25 and Kimmy Baker, 28 and who said: 'We know the family and just knew we had to something to help Poppy-Mai.'

The day raised at least £466.

There will also be a live music night planned at centre at the end of May in aid of Poppy-Mai.

The children's drawing competition will last for two weeks, with forms available from the Pine Close Community Centre at evenings.

Poppy-Mai's parents are Andy and Sammi and she has two brothers, Rylee, six, and Jenson-Jay, four.