Deryn, from Watton, to walk with sports legend Sir Ian Botham for cancer charity

A Watton boy with leukaemia will be joining cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham in a special walk for a cancer charity.

Deryn Blackwell, 12, from Bridle Road, is in remission but has not been given the all-clear, and hopes to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research by taking part in Beefy's Great British Walk 2012 at the Wimpole Estate, Cambridge, on April 20.

Since 1985 the cricketer, who is president of the charity, has walked across Britain each year for the worthy cause and has raised more than �13m.

This year he starts at Drumpellier Park, Glasgow, on April 12 and will walk 20 miles each day through nine cities ending up at Ham House and Garden in Richmond, London, on April 21.

Deryn, his mother Callie, stepfather Simon, and brother Dylan, seven, will be walking together and joining hundreds of other people for part of the route on the Wimpole Estate.

Speaking ahead of this year's walk, Sir Ian said: 'These kids are living proof of the improvements in treatments that have been achieved since my first walk in 1985. But children are still dying and for those that survive, the treatments can be gruelling.'

The Blackwell family first learned that Deryn, a Wayland Community High School pupil, had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, cancer of the bone marrow, in July 2010.

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Callie took him to Watton Medical Practice after the youngster lost his appetite. Doctors originally thought it could be glandular fever because his tonsils had swollen, but a blood test revealed it was leukaemia.

She added: 'I burst into tears and my husband went quiet but Deryn didn't know what it was. When I said it was cancer of the blood he burst into tears too.'

Deryn spent 11 days on the Addenbrooke's children's oncology ward, and had nine months of intensive chemotherapy. Since May 2011 he has been in remission but still has to have treatment including an injection into his spine every three months.

This will finish in October next year but after that he will have to wait five years for the all-clear.

Callie said: 'He does as much as he can and will push himself until he collapses. He never uses the cancer as an excuse.'

During the intensive treatment Deryn lost his hair and could not play any sport because the drugs caused muscle weakness.

But he can take part in some sport now and even took part in a 3km cross-country run at school in February.

The condition has not affected his education either because despite missing a third of the year, Deryn was one mark off getting 100pc in his SATS exams. The experience also inspired Deryn to become a doctor.

Callie said: 'I'm immensely proud of him.'

On top of the cancer Deryn also has Tourette's syndrome and mild autism, but his mother believes that has helped him cope with the illness better.

Speaking about the fundraiser, Deryn said: 'It was a surprise when mum said we were going to do the walk. It is going to be cool.'

On April 19, another Norfolk teenager will be joining Sir Ian on the Norwich stage of Beefy's Great British Walk 2012.

Fleur Guyton, 16, a blood cancer survivor from Harleston, near Eye, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1998.

Former Norwich City star Jeremy Goss, events fundraiser for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, will also be taking part in the Norwich stage of the charity walk.

To sponsor Deryn, visit www.justgiving.com.team-chickpea.

If you would like to join Sir Ian on one of his walks ring 0207 6852282, email LHOLMES@beatingbloodcancers.org.uk or visit www.beatingbloodcancers.org.uk/beefywalk2012.

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