Birthday boy Henry bids for world cards record
A four-year-old boy fighting a devastating cancer received more than 700 birthday cards after his mother urged wellwishers to help set a new world record.
Brave Henry Hallam received heart-warming greetings and messages of support from as far afield as Finland, Dubai, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.
The stack of cards was so high that it took his family two days to open them all.
Henry, from Plymouth, suffers from Neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer which has left his tiny body ravaged with tumours.
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Strangers rallied to his cause after reading about the Hugs for Henry appeal set up by his parents Elsbeth, 29, and Mike, 30.
The couple asked wellwishers to help make it the best birthday ever by setting a new record for the number of cards received – and 737 people responded.
Henry has spent the last year in Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and was unable to celebrate turning four on August 30 because he was undergoing intensive treatment.
However, the youngster was finally able to open all his cards and presents on Sunday when medics let him go home briefly for a special belated birthday party with more than 100 friends and relatives.
It took Elsbeth and Mike, who also have an eight-month-old daughter, Georgina, two days to open all the cards ready for Henry’s bash – and more are arriving by the day.
There is no current mark for the number of birthday cards received but the couple have written to Guinness World Records to lodge it as a new category.
Elsbeth, an emergency nurse, said: “Me and Mike have been so touched and overwhelmed by the support we have received from across the country and world.
“We’ve had cards from Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Tasmania – you name it.
“Although his birthday was at the end of August, they are still arriving and I expect they will keep coming for months to come.
“It would be fantastic to set a world record. This past year has been a nightmare, it’s a hideous disease and he’s fought so hard.”
Mike, an electrical engineer, added: “It’s quite unbelievable to see all these cards. It’s a great feeling to see Henry literally surrounded by cards with supportive messages.
“We’ll enjoy going through and reading them all one by one.”
Elsbeth and Mike will find out next month if Henry’s treatment has rid his tiny body of cancer – but even if it has there is a 60 to 80 per cent chance it will come back.
If it does, Henry, who dreams of becoming a superhero, only has a five per cent chance of surviving it if he stays in the UK.
Through Hugs for Henry, his parents are desperately trying to raise the half a million pounds to take him to the US for a T-Cell transplant and antibody treatment which are not available in the UK.
The appeal fund currently stands at just under £120,000.
Elsbeth said: “Our little boy is so wonderful. He has shown so much strength over the past year.
“It has been incredibly tough and the clinical trial has been hideous – there really is no other word to describe it.”
Neuroblastoma affects just under 100 children a year in Britain but accounts for a disproportionately high 15% of cancer deaths in kids.
It can occur anywhere in the body but it most often hits the adrenal glands.
To donate to the Hugs for Henry campaign, visit www. hugsforhenry.co.uk/donate