Family 'overwhelmed' by community support for youngster with inoperable brain tumour
PUBLISHED: 12:01 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 20:08 20 January 2020
When six-year-old Benny Pitcher was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour nine months ago, his parents, Kevin and Julie, felt as though their world had come to an end.
But they say that, thanks to "unbreakable" family ties, and "overwhelming" support from the community, they have found the strength to remain positive and are determined to keep life as normal as possible for Benny and his three siblings.
Mr and Mrs Pitcher, who live at East Runton, near Cromer, were given the devastating news that their youngest child had diffuse pontine glioma - an aggressive form of childhood cancer - after cutting short a family holiday when he began showing signs of one-sided weakness.
"It was absolutely horrific," Mr Pitcher said. "I think the most heart-wrenching thing was how you could just go from being a normal family and then, suddenly, within 48 hours, everything has changed."
Touched by the family's courage, friends, neighbours and supporters have raised more than £10,000 for Benny by organising a string of fundraising events, the latest of which will see Mr Pitcher and 15 fellow running enthusiasts take part in the Brighton Marathon on April 19.
Dozens of businesses in Cromer, Sheringham and surrounding villages have got behind the family, putting up posters, filling collection boxes and handing out leaflets.
Cash raised from donations and sponsorship will go towards an appeal to build a bedroom and wet room extension for Benny at the family home, with donations also going to Cromer Children's Charity and East Anglia's Children's Hospices, both of which have supported the Pitchers.
Having spoken to other families whose children have died of the same condition three months after diagnosis, Mr Pitcher says he feels lucky and is determined to let people know about his "special little boy", who, after treatment including radiotherapy, is defying doctors' expectations.
"I will never give up on Benny, he is full of life, he's like any other six-year-old and it's remarkable the way he has coped with everything - he is everyone's little superhero," Mr Pitcher said.
He added: "I have no words for the incredible amount of support we have had, the whole community has just been amazing."
Mr Pitcher and 30 volunteers will be taking part in a treadmill marathon and static cycle ride for Benny at Morrison's supermarket, Cromer from 10am-4pm on Feburary 1, and from 10am-2pm on February 2.
To support Benny, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/onefamilyforbrighton