An ‘always smiling’ schoolgirl who lost her battle with cancer was remembered when Sheffield classmates sent hundreds of balloons into the sky in her honour.
Little Issabelle Futter would have turned eight today, but died tragically of neuroblastoma, one of the most common childhood cancers.
Her friends at St Thomas More School in Grenoside unveiled a memorial bench and plaque, then released balloons – each containing eight sunflower seeds, one for each year of Issabelle’s life – in an emotional ceremony yesterday afternoon.
It is hoped people will find the balloons and plant the seeds to help raise awareness of a charity being launched in Issabelle’s name.
Issabelle’s mum Wendy Futter, of Parson Cross, said: “Everybody we know associates a sunflower as Issabelle’s flower because they say she was always beaming and smiling.
“We hope the balloons have gone far and wide, that people find them and plant the seeds, and we’ve asked people to send photographs of the flowers once they have grown to put on the appeal website.”
Issabelle was four when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, and a scan found a large tumour in her stomach.
She underwent gruelling courses of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other types of treatment, mostly at Sheffield Children’s Hospital but also in London.
Last October the family discovered a therapy available in Germany that they hoped could help.
But just a month later doctors found the cancer had spread, and Issabelle died on December 1.
Her devastated mum, dad Andrew, and brother Benjamin are now hoping to help other young cancer patients.
The family have planned a range of fundraising events, including a coast-to-coast walk this weekend, to launch a new charity called Issabelle’s Appeal.
Wendy, aged 40, added: “We set up the charity to pay for treatment to get Issabelle abroad and obviously that didn’t happen. So we have decided that in her name we want to carry on and turn it into a charity in the hope we can make wishes come true for other patients like those on Issabelle’s ward at the children’s hospital.”
* Families of children with cancer will be able to make special memories thanks to Issabelle Futter’s charity.
Money first collected to help send Issabelle to Germany for treatment is being used to launch the appeal.
Mum Wendy said: “We had a lot of help and support and a lot of memories.
“We were given a week in Disneyland in America and we saw how much it gave her a lift. It put a smile back on her face because it was something normal for a change.
“It’s about helping families make memories.”
Issabelle’s Appeal needs to raise £5,000 to become a registered charity.
Visit www.issabellesappeal.co.uk to donate or for more details on the cause.