Battling Hartlepool schoolboy Josh Dawson has a ticket to ride thanks to Bringing Back a Smile charity

A Hartlepool schoolboy who is battling the effects of a rare brain tumour can enjoy a welcome break after a local charity rode to his aid.

Monday, 24th June 2019, 11:11 am
Joshua Dawson in the minibus donated by Bring Back a Smile. Picture by FRANK REID

Eleven-year-old Josh Dawson has spent years undergoing treatment and check ups after he was first diagnosed with a type of brain tumour that affects just 450 people in the UK each year.

In 2012 aged five, scans revealed the tumour of the brain’s support cells, called an ependymoma, and Josh underwent a nine-hour life-saving operation to remove the majority of it.

Joshua Dawson (centre) with mum Michaela Dawson and Kevin Hill from Bring Back a Smile holding the keys for the minibus. Picture by FRANK REID

A course of radiotherapy treatment followed, but in September 2016 he suffered a relapse when a check up showed a return of his tumour.

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He had another operation to remove the new tumour followed by more radiotherapy.

In just a few weeks time, Josh, who attends Dyke House Sports and Technology College, will return to Newcastle’s RVI to remove a cluster of benign carcinomas which are a side effect of the radiotherapy.

Mum Michaela Dawson, 52, said: “Josh can’t have any more radiotherapy, so if the tumour was to come back the only thing would be clinical trials for any drug that comes up.”

Joshua Dawson (left) and Kevin Hill from Bring Back a Smile with the donated minibus. Picture by FRANK REID

Before then he and his family are able to enjoy a break on the Isle of Bute in Scotland after Kevin Hill of local charity Bringing Back a Smile paid more then £400 for the hire of a nine-seater van.

He and Michaela, along with sister Stephanie Whitelock her husband Jed and their two children Ella and Lucas, will stay at Calum’s Cabin, a Scottish charity started by the family of Calum Speirs who lost his fight for life aged 12, just a year after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Michaela said without Kevin’s help they would not have been able to go on the break.

“It means a lot to us to be able to go as a family,” she said. “Josh loves the freedom and we get a week’s respite.

“We are trying to make as many memories as we can because we don’t know what the future is.”

Kevin said: “I have kept in touch with the family for a few years. I’m glad we could help them to get away.”