A family have raised thousands of pounds to support the vital research of a children’s brain tumour charity in memory of a beloved five-year-old.

Sophie Welburn’s family were rocked in July 2021 when their daughter, then aged four, was diagnosed with a tumour in her brain stem called a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

Such tumours are inoperable and terminal, and she was given a life expectancy of around nine months.  

The Darlington family described how their worlds collapsed in an instant as Sophie’s incredibly bright future was cruelly turned into an unimaginably bleak one. 

Read more: Family's tribute after girl, 5, die from brain tumour 

The Northern Echo: Sam, Sophie Welburn and Julie Cairns-WadeSam, Sophie Welburn and Julie Cairns-Wade (Image: The Northern Echo)

Sophie made regular visitors to the Great Northern Children’s Hospital at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where she underwent a biopsy operation and a six-week course of daily radiotherapy.

But despite the best efforts of a dedicated team of specialist doctors Sophie peacefully passed away on March 18.  

Her family were keen to share their story to warn other parents of the dangers of the illness and how to spot the early warning signs. Brain tumours are one of the most common causes of death among children yet the understanding of the illness among young families is scarce.

The Northern Echo: Sophie Welburn was aged just 4 when she was diagnosed Sophie Welburn was aged just 4 when she was diagnosed (Image: The Northern Echo)

Sophie’s grandmother’s Sam and Julie Cairns-Wade have helped raise over £4,000 for Children’s Cancer North and Brain Tumour Research after walking 843 miles – the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Sam said: “When we got the news that Sophie was diagnosed with this illness we never thought she would have been taken so soon.

“These things are just so rare. But the fact many people don’t realise is that children die from brain tumours more than any other disease – it’s shocking.

“It was a crazy idea that I had around Christmas when Sophie’s health started to deteriorate.”

The Northern Echo: Sam and Julie Cairns-Wade during their fundraising walk Sam and Julie Cairns-Wade during their fundraising walk (Image: The Northern Echo)

With the first miles walked on New Year’s Day 2022 the couple completed the challenge earlier this year but carried walking, with many tears and laughter along the way. The final five miles were walked at Darlington Golf Club, a key contributor to donations.

“It wasn’t difficult to achieve it was just very emotional,” Sam added.

Five-year-old Sophie attended the Outdoor Pre-school, in Darlington, before her diagnosis last Summer. Yet she continued her studies despite the setback and began her primary school studies at Abbey Primary in the Autumn.  

Her former school friend Rowan Lyons also completed a 10km run to fundraise in her memory.

Click here to donate to their fundraiser. 

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