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A big 2019 in store for charity Finnbar's Force

PUBLISHED: 10:15 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:36 27 February 2019

From left: Finnbar Cork, Claire Cork, Tristan Cork, Nell Cork. Picture: EACH

From left: Finnbar Cork, Claire Cork, Tristan Cork, Nell Cork. Picture: EACH

EACH

A father is on a mission to use the 'unbelievably dark' experience of losing his five-year-old son to a brain tumour to improve support for families affected by childhood cancer.

Finnbar Cork, the little boy who died of a brain tumour, and the inspiration behind charity Finnbar's Force. PHOTO: Finnbar's ForceFinnbar Cork, the little boy who died of a brain tumour, and the inspiration behind charity Finnbar's Force. PHOTO: Finnbar's Force

When five-year-old Finnbar Cork, from Hethersett, started to suffer dizzy spells and mood changes in November 2015, his parents Tristan and Claire Cork had no idea that in just a few months he would lose his battle to brain cancer.

Following his death the couple founded charity Finnbar’s Force, raising more than £100,000 in two years for brain cancer research and providing grants for families struggling with the financial pressure of undergoing treatment.

Now, Mr Cork said the charity was starting a 2019 mission to improve communication between medical staff and parents of children undergoing cancer treatment.

The Hethersett father said one of the biggest struggles when Finnbar was diagnosed with a grade two astrocytoma was establishing who to approach for medical advice.

Finnbar Cork, aged five, of Hethresett. Pictured in September 2015 at the start of the school year at Hethersett Primary.Finnbar Cork, aged five, of Hethresett. Pictured in September 2015 at the start of the school year at Hethersett Primary.

For long periods Mr and Mrs Cork cared for their son at home and although they were given a hospital telephone number to call if they had concerns, Mr Cork said it was often unmanned or calls were picked up by people unable to answer questions.

The couple found themselves searching for information on the internet, trawling through terrifying survival statistics as they attempted to make sense of the illness.

Mr Cork said: “When your child has cancer you’re thrown into a mind boggling world that you don’t know how to navigate. “I thought every piece of support going would be thrown at us but the truth is you often feel alone.”

He added the process was made more complicated by having several different points of contact at the hospital.

The Cork family before Finnbar's diagnosis - parents Tristan and Claire with sister Nell (far left) and Finnbar Picture: Cork familyThe Cork family before Finnbar's diagnosis - parents Tristan and Claire with sister Nell (far left) and Finnbar Picture: Cork family

A spokesperson for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the regional centre for children with cancer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, said it already work closely with a number of charities which support children with brain tumours and added: “We would of course be pleased to hear from Finnbar’s Force and explore how we might work together for the benefit of patients.”

In an effort to streamline support for other families, the charity wants to initiate specialists to work directly with patients, acting as advocates on points such as gaining a second opinion and being referred to support services.

The Hethersett father said: “It’s a big year for us. So far the support has been overwhelming and now we want to establish the next stage of our mission.

“We’re going to do some big things and try to make a big difference so we hope people can get behind us.”

Finnbar Cork, aged five, of Hethersett, who is battling a brain tumour. Pictured in May 2016 in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.Finnbar Cork, aged five, of Hethersett, who is battling a brain tumour. Pictured in May 2016 in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

A big year for Finnbar’s Force

Since 2017 the Hethersett charity has raised more than £100,000 with events such as a Jedi walk and outdoor adventure day at Eaton Vale.

Longwater Sainsbury’s in Costessey and local comic book convention Nor-Con both chose Finnbar’s Force as their 2017 charity and the Aviva Community Fund donated £1,000 to the organisation.

Finnbar Cork. Picture: Tristan and Claire CorkFinnbar Cork. Picture: Tristan and Claire Cork

In 2019 the momentum is set to continue, with a packed programme of events to look forward to.

On Tuesday, February 19, a charity Tombola will kick off a year of regular events at Castle Mall, Norwich.

Sunday, April 9, will see the mall host a Finnbar’s Force Easter Egg hunt, with a host of prizes up for grabs.

The hugely successful Eaton Vale Family Adventure Day will return on September 8, giving thrill seekers the chance to try canoeing, axe throwing and trapeze.

Norwich Star Wars Club at the Jedi Walk Photo: Finnbar's ForceNorwich Star Wars Club at the Jedi Walk Photo: Finnbar's Force

Visit www.finnbarsforce.co.uk for new announcements about upcoming events.

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