Six-year-old who captured thousands of hearts loses battle against brain cancer
PUBLISHED: 08:04 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:17 28 July 2020
A six-year-old youngster who dreamed of being a train driver has lost his fight against a rare form of brain cancer after capturing the hearts of thousands with his cheeky smile and “superhero” courage.
Benny Pitcher, who died in the arms of his parents, Kevin and Julie, at his home in East Runton on July 12, was given between nine and 12 months to live after being diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, for which there is no cure, in March 2019.
Touched by the family’s plight, the communities of Sheringham, Holt and Cromer raised thousands of pounds towards an appeal to build him a specially-equipped extension, organising events ranging from cake sales and quiz nights to a fishing match and a family fun day and football match featuring former Norwich City stars Darren Eadie and Mike Milligan.
Runners from all over the country also sent the brave youngster their medals, while he was invited to switch on last year’s Christmas lights at Holt, Sheringham and Cromer, and the manager of Smyths toy store in Norwich held a special after-hours opening for him, his brother Brannigan and sisters Roseanna and Ruby.
Led by project manager Nick Mathers, more than 30 local tradesmen worked against the clock to build Benny’s new bedroom and wetroom extension, which, tragically, was just a week from completion when he died. Mr and Mrs Pitcher, who hope to set up a charity in Benny’s honour, said the support they had received from the community had been “incredible”.
“As parents, we are totally honoured to live in north Norfolk, we must have had 1,500 messages and the love and affection from people has been amazing,” Mr Pitcher said.
Thousands are expected to line the route to Cromer Crematorium for Benny’s funeral, which, although for close family only, will be live-streamed, and the Pitchers have asked for those turning out to wear brightly coloured clothes or superhero costumes and wave coloured flags and balloons.
“Although they can’t be there because of the current situation, we want people who have supported us through Benny’s journey to be part of the service,” Mrs Pitcher said.
Mr Pitcher plans to complete a marathon in Benny’s honour later this year, while Sheringham Primary School, where the youngster was a pupil, will be installing a stained glass window as a tribute.
Bright colours and superhero costumes the order of the day for funeral procession
Mrs Pitcher said her son was a happy, loving child who adored his family, trains and animals - especially his kitten, Tilly. She added: “Benny’s memory will forever be cherished by his parents, his brother and sisters, and his grandparents Brian, Jean and Kevin, as well as by his many cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. He will forever be remembered in their hearts and the many people’s hearts he touched.”
A private funeral service for Benny Pitcher will be held for close family only on August 5th. The funeral procession will pass through Mount Street and West Street at approximately 12.30pm.
Family flowers only, donations to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) and Cromer Children’s Charity in Benny’s memory can be sent to Cromer and District Independent Funeral Service, 32 West Street, Cromer, NR27 9DS or via www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/onefamilyforbrighton
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