Father pays tribute to “beautiful princess” Poppy-Mai Barnard after Thetford toddler dies

Poppy-Mai Barnard with her family, mum Sammi and dad Andy in Thetford. An Eddie Stobart lorry was na

Poppy-Mai Barnard with her family, mum Sammi and dad Andy in Thetford. An Eddie Stobart lorry was named after her. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A toddler whose story has captured the hearts of thousands of well-wishers has 'grown her angel wings', according to her father, after she died this afternoon.

Andy Barnard with his daughter, Poppy-Mai.

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

Poppy Mai-Barnard died just after 1pm, according to a post on Facebook from her father.

The 18-month-old, from Thetford, was diagnosed with a progressive malignant rhabdoid tumour in March, with doctors giving her weeks to live.

Parents Andy and Sammi Barnard shared her story on a Facebook page, sparking an outpouring of support and fundraising pledges from people in the Breckland town, and in the family's native Blackburn.

Mr Barnard's message, posted just before 2.30pm on Tuesday, described her as their 'beautiful princess'.

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'Poppy-Mai Indi Barnard, our beautiful princess grew her Angel wings this afternoon at 1316.

'She was in my arms with her mummy stroking her head. I miss her already. Our Princess is now at peace.

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'I thought it was the right thing to do to let all of you special people know. Thank you all for travelling on our journey with us.

'Poppy-Mai I love so much....sweet dreams princess,' it said.

The post saw an instant response from the page's followers, with nearly 5,000 messages of condolences in three hours.

It also saw a surge in donations to the family's Just Giving page, with £600 donated in the same amount of time.

The family intends to raise £100,000 to pay for a campsite retreat for families with sick children.

It has raised £30,000 so far after a string of fundraising events were organised by the family and well-wishers.

Her story also sparked a campaign to see a new £200m Polar Research vessel named after her.

The poll, run by the National Environment Research Council (NERC), saw Boaty McBoatface receive the most nominations.

But Poppy-Mai supporters are still hopeful the ship will be take her name after the NERC said it was not obliged to pick the most nominated name, but the most suitable.

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