THE FAMILY of brave Alvechurch boy Finlay Church, who has sadly passed away after a 17-month battle with brain cancer, have vowed to continue the amazing fund-raising work he started.
The 11-year-old captured the hearts of thousands with his tenacious fund-raising which saw more than £90,000 collected for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research after a multitude of charity events.
Among them was Operation Teddy Bear which took place at Alvechurch Cricket Club and saw Fin lead and inspire the creation of the longest ever line of teddy bears.
The line, officially confirmed as a Guinness World Record earlier this year, was 15,534 bears long, measuring 2,106 m (6,909 ft 5.22 in).
On the day of the record attempt, Fin was recovering from a seven-hour operation at Liverpool’s Alder Hay Hospital. However, he made it back in time to put the last teddy bear in place, delighting the crowds who had gathered to see the feat unfold.
Alvechurch Lions FC, who Fin played for, wore black armbands during their games at the weekend and Redditch United held a minute’s applause before their matches.
His mum Penny told The Standard while it was hard to come to terms with losing Fin last Wednesday his fund-raising would go a long way to helping others and their families facing their own cancer battles.
She said: “He fought so hard and I’m so proud of him and, though we are heartbroken, he is now finally at peace.
“In the last couple of weeks he had had enough and we could tell that he was struggling to keep fighting.
“We are just glad he passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.
“All the children at the school are completely shell-shocked – the kids have lost a friend and the teachers have lost a valued pupil.
“Everyone has been amazing – we have had so many cards and messages of goodwill.
“It’s very humbling to see how many hearts he touched.
“We will carry on fund-raising in his name forever – to make a difference to as many other kids and adults fighting brain tumours as we can.
“And on Monday we are going to make sure we give him a fantastic send off.”
Fin’s funeral will be held at 11am on Monday (December 7) at St Laurence Church in Alvechurch.
There will be a public service which everyone is welcome to before a private family burial.
The coffin will travel past Alvechurch Middle and Crown Meadow First School about 10.30am for those children or adults who want to pay their respects but won’t be attending the funeral.
Fin was diagnosed last June with a Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive malignant primary brian tumour – and he fought it all the way.
His first fund-raising achievement was raising more than £19,000 towards the creation of a new £4million cancer unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and such was his contribution, he was given the honour of filling in the last part of the totaliser to officially bring the curtain down on the successful campaign.
A lasting memorial for Fin, yet to be confirmed, will also be created in Alvechurch for youngsters in the village to enjoy and remember him.
The family has asked for family flowers only and donations for the memorial can be made on the day or via Thomas Brothers Funeral Directors by calling 0121 445 3422.
You can read more about Finlay’s journey at www.facebook.com/Finlaysjourney or donate at www.justgiving.com/teams/Finlaysjourney