Fund in memory of cancer victim nears £1m

WHEN Emma Maltby was diagnosed with cancer she told her family all she wanted to do was to see her children grow up.

Sadly, that simple wish never came true but when Mrs Maltby received her prognosis she knew only too well how her illness would impact upon her young family as she had had to endure watching her own father die of cancer when she was a teenager, an ordeal which affected her school work.

Following her death, her family set up a fund in her name and also in memory of her father. Seven years on it has now raised almost 1m to help young cancer sufferers receive an education while they are in hospital.

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Friends have helped but now The Emma Maltby Memorial Fund is becoming more and more well known for its work. Many who never knew Mrs Maltby or her father are adopting it as their chosen charity because they are touched by the family's story.

It currently pays for two learning mentors who work in hospitals in Leeds offering educational support to children, teenagers and young adults and thanks to its success is considering employing a third at another hospital. It also advises other hospitals up and down the country.

Wendy Morrell, Mrs Maltby's mother, said: "I think it has been a great legacy for Emma."

Mrs Maltby was just 16 when her father, Peter Rawson, the former head of a Wakefield textile firm, died of bone cancer at the age of 47. More than two decades later, she died at the age of 38, after contracting Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer usually found in young adults.

She knew from her own experiences how grief would hit her family – but was powerless to stop their pain.

Her sister, Jane Stevens, 42, who lives in Boston Spa, near Wetherby, said: "She knew so well how hard it would be for her children she kept on saying to me: 'All I want to do is to see my children grow up, I don't care if I am bed-ridden but I just want to see my children grow up'.

"So she knew what was coming and also she knew what was coming with her own illness because she had seen her father struggling with the disease," Mrs Stevens added.

Mrs Maltby's twins, Louis and Amelia, now 15, were seven when their mother died.

The family chose to help young adults because Mrs Maltby, who was born in Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby, was badly affected by her father's death in adolescence. Grief stopped her reaching her educational potential at school; but in later life she gained a first class degree in comparative religion at King's College, London, and later a first in theology at the former Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education.

Mrs Stevens said: "The grief really affected her and she was at a very academic school with friends who had not experienced death in their family."

Mrs Morrell, 70, who has remarried since her first husband's death, said many patients have to spend a lot of time in hospital battling their illness away from friends and family and it can be a positive thing to have close access to education during treatment.

She added: "Although some of these teenagers do not get better they still deserve to have an education."

Aim to improve quality of life

Every day in the UK, six young people are told they have cancer.

The Yorkshire-based Emma Maltby Memorial Fund strives to improve life for child, teenage and young adult cancer patients.

Young cancer patients in particular need educational, emotional and developmental support to pursue their dreams and ambitions while coping with the trauma and disruption of the illness.

The fund helps fulfil this by providing learning mentors and was the first charity to finance a hospital-based role of this kind in the UK.

The role of a learning mentor involves combining pastoral care with educational guidance and liaising with qualified teaching staff.