James Tortice, eight, has been named an offical superhero for helping his friend and his battle with cancer.
James, from Morley, was diagnosed with ADHD and autism just before lockdown. He found that art helped him cope with the changes in his routine. He created paintings which he sold online to help his friend Henry Bard’s fundraising for life-saving cancer treatment. This evolved into him making some of his paintings into Christmas cards which he sold and hand-delivered around his area.
Five-year-old Henry has neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer with a 40-50 per cent survival rate. His parents are trying to raise money to get him onto a clinical trial in New York that aims to stop the neuroblastoma coming back. So far, they have raised over £133,000, but they need to raise an additional £30,000 to make the trip to the States.
James’s mother, Karen, nominated him for the The Tetley Superheroes of Leeds campaign as a way to recognise his incredibly kind nature as well as his clear aptitude for art.
“James finds sitting still, and generally focusing on tasks, really difficult, but he loves art, and I think he has a real talent. He spent his lockdowns painting, in small chunks so he doesn’t get too overwhelmed, and made an online art gallery to sell his work. He donated the money to Henry. His Christmas cards really took off and he sold around 600 of these which is just incredible. We’re so proud of him.”
James has raised £2,000 for Henry’s appeal, but he’s not ready to hang up his paint palette just yet. The Tetley art gallery was so impressed by his artwork and his generosity that they have asked him to create a new card design that they will be stocking on their online store. All proceeds from the card sales will go towards Henry’s fundraising appeal.
Adam Roe, head of development and engagement at The Tetley, said: “Lockdown has been a very difficult time for everyone which is why we wanted to spread some joy with our Superheroes of Leeds campaign, giving people the opportunity to nominate anyone who has creatively made a positive difference during lockdown. When Karen got in touch to nominate James we were all blown away by the idea that someone so young could be so empathetic and want to overcome his own struggles in order to help someone else.”