THE strength shown by a girl in the face of a cancer battle motivated families to complete a charity fun run in her honour.

Seven-year-old Emily Dickinson was diagnosed with leukaemia just before Christmas and instead of feeling sorry for herself, her fighting spirit has grown.

The youngster, from Blackhill, Consett, was often shy and quiet away from her family but they and staff at Consett Junior School say her personality has grown since diagnosis.

Mam Vickie Kirchner, 37, said: “It has been a strain but she has been amazing, the support from the school and community has helped give her and us strength.”

On Saturday, around 100 pupils and parents took part in a sponsored 5k run from the school in aid of the charity Children with Cancer UK.

Organiser, school operations manager Dawn Raine, said: “This is a close community and it was clear from how many people took part or donated money how much support there is for Emily and her family.”

Miss Kirchner, who works as a receptionist for a taxi company, took Emily to the GP after she complained of stomach pain and feeling sleepy.

She was sent for tests and on December 14 diagnosed with cancer. The next day medics at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle said it was acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which had been found early and was treatable.

Dad Rob Dickinson, a self-employed painter, said: “We heard cancer and everything turned upside down for the 24 hours, then we heard it was treatable and the pressure lifted a bit.“Adults know if they smoke and drink you run a risk, but children don’t deserve it, it seems so unfair.”

Emily is now about four weeks from the end of chemotherapy and steroid treatment which has included clinical drugs trials.

Mr Dickinson, 41, said: “We both agreed that's the only way progress is made.

“Your children are your most valuable thing and you have to trust people you've never met before to help them.

"She's getting the best care at the RVI and we have a lot of respect for the consultant Simon Bomken.

“Emily’s always been resilient and independent but quite shy but has come out of her shell since diagnosis.

“She goes to school as much as she can, she’s always been sarcastic and funny and hasn’t lost that at all through illness. “The steroids make her hungry, she had me up at 3am once making lasagne and while I did that she was eating crisps and watching a video on KFC.

“She always had a mound of red hair and has just started losing it, she got a wig from Little Princesses charity and we thought she’d want one like her own hair but she said she’d get a blonde one like Elsa. She’s amazing really.”