Arran Tosh was a fit and happy boy who loved playing football and starring in productions at his local drama club.
But when the 13-year-old started complaining of persistent headaches and blurred vision, doctors were initially at a loss to explain the cause.
Following several examinations, Arran was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour after an optician dectected swelling behind his eye. He was admitted to hospital where he slipped into a coma, and died four days later in June 2014.
While dealing with the devastating and unexpected loss of their youngest child, Arran’s parents Alison and Stephen, originally from Dumfries, decided to honour his love of helping others by establishing a charity in his name.
Smile of Arran was founded that same year and now aims to provide financial support to individuals and families whose lives have been affected by a brain tumour.
Based in the family’s home town of Sudbury, Suffolk, but covering the length of the UK, the fledgling organisation has already donated more than £10,000 to good causes and signed a partnership deal with CLIC Sargent, the country’s biggest children’s cancer charity.
“Arran was already fundraising on behalf of others when he fell ill, we had to carry that on,” said Alison. “We couldn’t let him become forgotten.
“A year before he became ill he had decided to raise money for Cancer Research, mainly as my younger sister had suffered breast cancer five years ago. Arran had seen how strong she was and the fact she came through it. A close friend of his was also diagnosed with hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“He saw the help the two of them had received, and wanted to contribute. He started to busk outside the Cancer Research in Sudbury. He was also due to have his head shaved for charity at his school.”
Smile of Arran remains a family-run concern, with Alison and Stephen acting as trustees along with daughters Chloe, 22, and Abbie, 20.
They are joined by a 30-strong fundraising committee, many of whom knew Arran personally from his sporting and acting hobbies.
“We want to help families in which children have either been diagnosed with brain tumours or cancerous brain tumours,” Alison added.
“If you’re having to go to hospital on a regular basis to be with your child, many parents might struggle to work, maybe the bills won’t get paid. We can offer support. Whether that’s a treat for the family, or supporting them day-to-day.”
Alison and her family’s experience of caring for Arran means they are well-placed to help others.
“It is only in going through the trauma of losing a child to a brain tumour that you begin to understand some of the diverse issues surrounding children and families affected by brain tumours or brain cancer,” she said.
“In a large percentage of cases, survivors have life altering disabilities. There is inconsistent support nationally for individuals whose life has been affected by brain tumours.
“Smile of Arran aims to assist in closing this gap and provide financial assistance where appropriate to individuals and families going through the treatment or recovery process.”
For more information on the charity and its work, visit the Smile of Arran website.