Reece Winterbottom from Beighton, captured the hearts of people across the city thanks to his kindness, his cheery personality and the positive attittude which always shone through whatever life chucked at him.
He was just seven when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012, only six months after losing his mum Kirsty to skin cancer, and he underwent an operation to remove it at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
When the tumour returned he travelled to the US in 2016 for proton beam therapy treatment, which was not available in the UK at the time, after which he was given the all-clear.
But following a routine check-up last year, his family got the devastating news that the tumour was back again and was this time malignant and a rare, very aggressive form of cancer.
In January this year, Reece was given just a few weeks to live, but he defied medics’ expectations by battling on until Monday, May 3, when he died at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, aged 16.
His dad David said: “Reece was such a loving, caring person. He was always so polite and never had a bad word to say about anyone. You couldn’t hope to meet a nicer child.
"He loved life and despite everything he faced he was always so resilient and never moaned about anything.
"Even during his last days at Bluebell Wood, all the nurses there would praise him so much for his politeness.”
Reece was a popular pupil at Westfield School and a big Sheffield United fan, who got the chance to meet the players and step onto the pitch at Bramall Lane a few weeks before he died.
The youngster, who was a talented footballer himself, playing at right back for the Killamarsh Dynamos, where his ability to read the game saw him nicknamed ‘The Gaffer’, also got to meet Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola.
As well as playing and watching football, Reece enjoyed going fishing with his grandfather and collecting memorabilia from the beautiful game.
His dad said Reece loved his family, including his stepbrother Finley and stepmother Michelle.
David thanked staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he said Reece had performed a particularly close bond with his neurosurgeon, Mr Saurabh Sinha, and at Bluebell Wood.
When Reece was eight, an appeal by the Mosborough Musical Festival raised more than £7,500 to fund a dream holiday to Disneyland, Florida, with his dad and brothers Charlie and Louis.
Reece took to the stage at that summer’s festival, even introducing the band Bad Manners to music fans, and he and his family became good friends with the event’s founder Steve Cowen.
Steve said: “Reece was a little soldier. He was so brave and never moaned about anything, and everyone involved with Mosfest was devastated to hear he had died.”
Reece’s family have set up two fundraising appeals in his memory to show their gratitude for the care he received.
To donate to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, visit: https://gofund.me/6828a545.
To donate to The Children’s Hospital Charity, visit: https://gofund.me/31f6ce36.