US firm to donate thousands to the Poppy-Mai Foundation

Poppy-Mai Barnard with her family, Mum Sammi and Dad Andy in Thetford to watch the Eddie Stobart lor

Poppy-Mai Barnard with her family, Mum Sammi and Dad Andy in Thetford to watch the Eddie Stobart lorry which has been named after her. Picture by Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

The parents of a toddler whose struggle with cancer touched thousands of hearts are receiving a donation from a US firm towards the charity they founded in her name.

Poppy-Mai Barnard with her family, Mum Sammi and Dad Andy in Thetford to watch the Eddie Stobart lor

Poppy-Mai Barnard with her family, Mum Sammi and Dad Andy in Thetford to watch the Eddie Stobart lorry which has been named after her. Picture by Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Poppy-Mai Barnard died in May, aged 18 months, ten weeks after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Her parents Andy and Sammi Barnard have since set up the Poppy-Mai Foundation, for which they are in the process of acquiring charity status.

The couple, from Thetford, plan to open a free campsite retreat for families with terminally ill children, to be named Poppy's Field.

Last month they received an enormous boost when they were chosen to receive a donation from American firm Saivian International, after a video by Mr Barnard explaining the family's story won a Facebook competition run by the cash-back company.


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Mr Barnard has been told the Poppy-Mai Foundation – the only beneficiary based in the UK – will receive at least £10,000.

'It is huge for us because we have been recognised across the pond. I have aspirations for our charity, once we are registered. I would like to go global with it.

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'What is the point in aiming small? You should aim as big as you can.

'I would like to replicate Poppy's Field in Cambridgeshire, and eventually in the US and New Zealand, but those are just dreams at the moment.

'We have not stopped with our campaigning because we feel that if we slow down we will lose momentum. We want to keep Poppy-Mai's name out there and Saivian is helping us to do that.'

The couple will fly to Los Angeles, where Saivian is based, on December 8 to accept their donation. This means they are unable to attend the EDP's Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards 2016, in which they are finalists, but have agreed that their sons Rylee and Jenson-Jay will attend in their place.

As well as putting time and money into their own charity, Mr and Mrs Barnard have been working on a petition to the Government for more funding for research into child cancers.

In four month it gained more than 100,000 signatures and was debated in Parliament on November 28 by health ministers and other MPs.

Mr Barnard said: 'The cases of famous people like [chef] Jean-Christophe Novelli and Michael Bublé go to show that cancer does not discriminate in who it targets.

'If we save one child with the petition, then we have done our job.'

Poppy-Mai's story

Poppy-Mai Barnard was diagnosed with a progressive malignant rhabdoid tumour in March. Her parents set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for Poppy-Mai's Field, a retreat for families with sick children, and eventually the Poppy-Mai Foundation.

To date the page has received donations of just over £110,000 from 4,000 people.

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.

Norfolk DJ Sigala, whose hit single Sweet Lovin' was Poppy-Mai's favourite song, has been in touch with the family and may become and ambassador for the foundation.

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