‘He had a strength and depth that just amazed me’ - heartbroken Bodham mum’s tribute to tragic Paston College student David Acott
- Credit: Archant
A heartbroken mum has spoken with pride about her 'kind and caring' teenage son, who has lost his fight against a rare cancer.
Grieving school, college and computer gaming friends have added their tributes to 17-year-old David Acott, a student at Paston College in North Walsham.
And this morning, scores of Sheringham Parkrun athletes will fall silent for a minute before their weekly event, which David often ran with his mum, Janet.
David died in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on March 11 from a rare cancer which developed after he had a liver transplant in 2012.
The keen athlete and gentle-mannered lad had thrown himself with relish into a happy interval of good health, which ended when he fell ill again in January.
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David, from Bodham, near Holt, had been a healthy boy, attending Beeston Hall School, Aylsham High, and later Sheringham High, until he began to suffer from depression and anxiety aged 13, said Ms Acott, 48.
Counselling and drug treatment seemed to help, but shortly after David's 15th birthday, Ms Acott noticed that his stomach looked swollen. Two days later his eye whites turned yellow and he rapidly became very ill.
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Within a week, David was undergoing a life-saving liver transplant in King's College Hospital, London, having been diagnosed with the rare Wilson's Disease.
His family learned that a genetic defect had caused the illness, which prevented his liver from being able to metabolise copper. The copper build-up was poisoning his liver, brain and other organs, changing David's personality and causing his depression - and the transplant cured him.
Within a few weeks David was well enough to take part with his mum in a parkrun at Sheringham Park.
'We basically walked most of it the first time but it was such an achievement,' said Ms Acott, who has now become one of the event organisers.
David began training and running and was soon swimming, playing badminton, took part in the 2013 Pinewood Triathlon and won a trio of medals in last year's transplant games in Bolton.
Ipswich-born, he loved playing football, supported his native Ipswich Town, and shared the family passion for Arsenal.
'David had been lost in his illness but for two-and-a-half really good years I had my real son - an absolute joy. A really lovely boy,' said Ms Acott, a former teacher at Beeston Hall where her partner, Richard Hamilton, teaches.
'He had a strength and depth that just amazed me. He was kind, good-natured, had a lovely smile, was very well-mannered, and caring and considerate to his younger brother Howard - they were best friends.
'He became my friend over that last couple of years. We would walk and run together - he was someone who was really nice to hang out with.'
As well as Howard, 14, David was also a loving brother to his half-sister, Clare, eight.
And he adored the family cocker spaniel, ironically named Copper by David, long before he knew he had Wilson's Disease.
The family enjoyed a holiday to the USA in 2013 and went to watch the UEFA Champions League Final in Portugal last May, courtesy of the Make-A- Wish Foundation, where David was thrilled to meet former Arsenal player Robert Pires.
David had begun a creative media course at Paston College and Ms Acott said she had been deeply touched at the support shown by his friends there when he became ill with cancer.
They had managed to get an Ipswich shirt signed by the players to boost his morale. Although David never saw it, Ms Acott said she had told him about it as he lay dying, and he had smiled with pleasure.
She added: 'He definitely had a very good two-and-a-half years, thanks to the selfless act of organ donation.'
? A huge computer games fan, David made a final Youtube video (above) to tell his gaming friends about his cancer diagnosis, two days before he was admitted into intensive care at Addenbrooke's Hospital.
Titled: 'I've got some bad news', it shows a confident, fluent David telling his mates that he will be out of action in hospital for a few weeks.
His mum Janet, said: 'We bawled our eyes out when we watched it.'