BRADLEY Lowery’s aunt has spoken of how tough the first anniversary of the young football mascot’s death has been for her and the family - and how proud all were of the fundraising efforts for his foundation.

Jade Lowery spoke as her former colleagues at npower at Rainton Bridge, near Houghton-le-Spring, handed over a cheque of £4,000 for the Bradley Lowery Foundation, following a week of fundraising.

The Sunderland mascot touched football’s heart with his brave fight against neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, and the unlikely friendship he struck up with England striker Jermain Defoe. Bradley died on July 7 last year.

Jade, 26, said : “We are so proud of everybody who is fundraising and keeping his legacy alive.

“I’m so proud to be his aunty. Every single memory is so special and he is missed terribly.”

She added: “The weekend was pretty tough. It is just hard without him. Every first anniversary (of a death) is really tough.”

“I was with my brother Carl and Gemma on Saturday. We watched the match and were overjoyed when number six scored.

“We just felt that Bradley was there. It was brilliant.”

Jade, who left her job in the back office team at npower earlier this year to work fulltime as fundraising and family support worker for the foundation, said: “Everybody that has been fundraising and we thank them so much.

“I love working for the foundation. It is making the difference in children’s lives, trying to get the money they they need. We are helping 17 children and there have been five success stories.”

Kelly Swinney, a manager at npower who organised the company’s fundraising drive said: “There are over 2,000 people in our building. Everyone has got involved this week.

“They have worn football shirts as part of the Cancer has No Colours campaign and donated a pound. And we had raffles and a cake competition.

“The Bradley Lowery Foundation is quite close to our hearts because of relatives and friends that work here. Everybody has got behind it. Having Liv'n' G here today to sing Smile for Bradley has just added that touch.

“npower has matched what we raised pound for pound. And this won’t be the final total, because our Hull and Leeds sites have got involved as well.”

The event came as Bradley’s mother Gemma welcomed news that a drug used to treat the young football mascot will be made available on the NHS.

Gemma said she was “overjoyed” dinutuximab beta has been recommended for use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) under final draft guidance published. The treatment for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, that mainly affects children and young people, could increase survival, evidence suggests.