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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

Kevin and Julie Pitcher with their 'superhero' son Benny, who has lost his life to brain cancer. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Kevin and Julie Pitcher with their 'superhero' son Benny, who has lost his life to brain cancer. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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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.

Six-year-old Benny Pitcher with mum Julie and dad Kevin.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSix-year-old Benny Pitcher with mum Julie and dad Kevin. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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.

Six-year-old Benny Pitcher and his sister Rosie, 8, show off some of the 130-plus marathon medals donated by Norfolk running enthusiasts.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSix-year-old Benny Pitcher and his sister Rosie, 8, show off some of the 130-plus marathon medals donated by Norfolk running enthusiasts. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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”.

Benny with his beloved kitten Tilly.
Photo: contributedBenny with his beloved kitten Tilly. Photo: contributed

“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.

East Runton couple Julie and Kevin Pitcher with their five-year-old son Benny, who has lost his life to a rare and aggresive form of childhood brain cancer. 
Photo: KAREN BETHELLEast Runton couple Julie and Kevin Pitcher with their five-year-old son Benny, who has lost his life to a rare and aggresive form of childhood brain cancer. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

“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.

Kevin Pitcher with ex-Norwich City stars Darren Eadie and Mike Milligan, who took part in a football match organised to raise funds for Mr Pitcher's six-year-old son Benny.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLKevin Pitcher with ex-Norwich City stars Darren Eadie and Mike Milligan, who took part in a football match organised to raise funds for Mr Pitcher's six-year-old son Benny. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Bright colours and superhero costumes the order of the day for funeral procession

Benny as the incredible Hulk at a superhero event held in his honour at Tesco, Sheringham.
Photo: contributedBenny as the incredible Hulk at a superhero event held in his honour at Tesco, Sheringham. Photo: contributed

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.”

Superhero Benny Pitcher in his Incredible Hulk costume, with dad Kevin.
Photo: suppliedSuperhero Benny Pitcher in his Incredible Hulk costume, with dad Kevin. Photo: supplied

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

Benny in happier days, before he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
Photo: contributedBenny in happier days, before he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Photo: contributed

Six-year-old Benny Pitcher with his dad Kevin, mum Julie and siblings Rosie, Brannigan and Ruby.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSix-year-old Benny Pitcher with his dad Kevin, mum Julie and siblings Rosie, Brannigan and Ruby. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Benny with mum Julie at the North Norfolk Railway.
Photo: contributedBenny with mum Julie at the North Norfolk Railway. Photo: contributed

Benny Pitcher, who has lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of six.
Photo: contributedBenny Pitcher, who has lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of six. Photo: contributed

Benny with a canine friend on one of his many visits to hospital.
Photo: contributedBenny with a canine friend on one of his many visits to hospital. Photo: contributed

Benny with mum Julie, dad Kevin, brother Brannigan and sisters Rosie and Ruby on holiday at Disneyland Paris.
Photo: contributedBenny with mum Julie, dad Kevin, brother Brannigan and sisters Rosie and Ruby on holiday at Disneyland Paris. Photo: contributed

Benny in superhero guise.
Photo: contributedBenny in superhero guise. Photo: contributed

Benny Pitcher, who has lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of six.
Photo: contributedBenny Pitcher, who has lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of six. Photo: contributed


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