A father with a terminal brain tumour is putting his heart and soul in a race against time to give his little girl the chance of surviving a rare cancer.
Tom Attwater, who works in Leamington and lived in the town until a few weeks ago, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour last September - and the 30-year-old has been told that at the stage of his diagnosis, the average life expectancy is three years.
But he and his fiancee Joely Smith are determined to raise the half a million pounds they need to fund potentially life-saving treatment for their four-year-old daughter Kelli, who has had a a rare form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma since she was three months old.
Although Mr Attwater describes his little girl as “lively” and “always smiling”, Kelli has gone into remission twice - despite having undergone seven months of chemotherapy and several operations during her short life.
He said: “Normally if a child suffers one relapse, the condition becomes fatal - unless the child has treatment which is only available in the USA and Germany.
“The problem is, it costs half a million pounds.
“With my brain cancer, it’s a race against time to raise the funds we need for Kelli. I need to do this in my lifetime.”
Mr Attwater, who is also preparing to marry Miss Smith next April, is struggling to work through his own ill health and has set up and runs the Kelli Smith Appeal to try to raise the money they need. They have so far raised around £55,000.
He said: “When you’re ill, you appreciate everything more, but you realise you are not invincible.
“Raising this money is a very difficult task and we need all the help we can get.
“Kelli is a beautiful lively little girl. She is very empathetic to children with special needs because she has spent so much time in hospital. But she is always smiling and she has a very good heart.
“She has just started school and that is a very proud moment for us because we never thought we would get this far.”
He added: “If Kelli gets the treatment, we would know that we were giving our daughter the best possible chance of a long, happy and healthy life.
“It’s not a question of whether we achieve it - it’s how we go about it.”
The couple, who now live in Sutton Coldfield, are organising fundraising events and selling wristbands, which are available online at www.justgiving.com.wristband4kelli, while they are also asking businesses and organisations to display collection tins for their appeal, which is a registered charity.
South Warwickshire letting agent Tree House Lettings is supporting the family by offering new landlord customers a £75 discount on fees if they donate £25 or more to the appeal. For further details, call 356440 or visit www.treehouselettings.co.uk
Anyone who can support Mr Attwater with organising fundraising schemes, as well as businesses wishing to display collection tins, can email Mr Attwater on firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate online, visit www.justgiving.com/helpkelli