THE family of Tom Walker, who last year died aged 13 of leukaemia, has thanked people from the "bottom of their hearts" after a £100,000 target to establish a cancer research scholarship in his memory was reached in less than a year.

Tom’s parents, Debbie and Tim; and sisters Holly, 13, and Emily, 11, said they were "hugely proud" to announce the news.

They estimated thousands of people had helped contribute to the fundraising, which will pay for a three-year research project into acute myeloid leukaemia.

The family, from Devauden, added: “We would like to say thank you to every single person that has helped us achieved this incredible target.

“Every time someone does any fundraising, it shows us, as a family, that people are thinking of and remembering Tom. And we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”


Hundreds of swimmers to take part in Swim for Tom event

Tom, a pupil at Monmouth School for Boys, was diagnosed with leukaemia in June 2018.

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(Devauden teenager Tom Walker)

Tragically, Tom failed to recover from an operation required to start treatment into the condition and he died the day after his diagnosis.

Since then, his family, friends and school community have been working to raise money for Cancer Research Wales.

In October 2018,

the charity announced it would set up a fund in Tom’s memory, with the target of raising £100,000 to fund a three-year research post


The family said they were grateful for the "incredible" support they had received in reaching that target. Events included a swimathon in Monmouth, sponsored marathon runs, rowing challenges, the Monmouth's Got Talent show, and

a night hike in the Brecon Beacons


Reflecting on Tom’s sudden illness, Mrs Walker said: “As a friend recently said to me, it was never a fair fight.

“And that is what would have annoyed Tom the most. He was always fair. He had an incredible sense of what was right and what was wrong. He would have taken anything on, but this was a very one-sided fight.”

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The survival rates for acute myeloid leukaemia, a rare but aggressive disease, are low. The money raised will fund an area of work where there is a recognised gap in research or evidence.

The Walker family added: “We hope that by funding this research, we can change the odds so that people affected by this type of leukaemia are more likely to survive be it by earlier diagnosis or by more effective treatment.”

Cancer Research Wales will now put out a grant call for an acute myeloid leukaemia research scholarship this summer, named in memory of Tom, with the appointed scientist to start working on the project in September 2020.

It is anticipated that the scientist will make regular visits to the Monmouth Schools’ community, keeping it up to date with the work they are doing and holding interactive workshops for those interested in careers associated with health, science and medicine.

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(Tom Walker with parents Debbie and Tim, and sisters Emily (back, centre) and Holly)

Fundraising manager at Cancer Research Wales, Katie Killoran, said: “The support that Tim and Debbie Walker have had since Tom’s death has been incredible.

“The Remembering Tom campaign has touched so many hearts and we are delighted to be able to fund research into acute myeloid leukaemia to help save lives in the future.

“I want to thank Tim and Debbie for their outstanding support to the charity and the community of Monmouth who have supported them along the way.”

Headmaster at Monmouth School for Boys, Dr Andrew Daniel, said: “Over the last 11 months, we have witnessed a community united in grief pulling together in support of the wonderful Walker family.

“Tom was a very popular and caring boy, who had a fondness for rowing, was a very talented drummer and sang in the magical performance by the schools’ musicians at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. His loss is still felt immeasurably by us all.”