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Community devastated as brave Tilly (6) loses cancer battle

Rural community devastated for little girl who fought illness for four years

By Cate McCurry

Published 03/10/2015

Tilly Walker with her dad Gordon and mum Evelyn
Tilly Walker with her dad Gordon and mum Evelyn
Tilly with her brothers Jordan and Dara

A brave and inspirational schoolgirl who has battled brain tumours for the past four years had died at home.

Tilly Walker, a six-year-old from Lack, Co Fermanagh, was diagnosed with cancer when she was just two, and since then has had a number of operations, as well as chemotherapy.

The youngster went through a lot in her short life and had been fighting cancer for two years when her family was told she had developed brain tumours.

Along with her parents Gordon and Evelyn, relatives would often make long trips from their rural home to Belfast for treatment.

While she received radiation treatment at Belfast City Hospital, she also attended the Royal Victoria Hospital in the city.

Tilly, a pupil at Irvinestown Primary School, had to undergo treatment every day for seven weeks, travelling to Belfast for appointments at 8.30am and then returning to school.

The little girl had been at school on Thursday. It is believed that when her father went to check on her yesterday morning he was unable to wake her.

Tilly's older brothers Dara (14) and Jordan (12) would often have been pictured with their sister at family events and at a number of fundraisers held for her in Fermanagh, including a Cycle For Tilly event in Irvinestown that raised £13,000.

Just last week her father shared a cancer tribute post on his Facebook page about children battling the disease.

Sandra Beacom, a friend of the family and the president of Kesh Young Farmers, told the Belfast Telegraph that the entire community was devastated after hearing of the little girl's death.

"Gordon and Evelyn have always been behind us, and Gordon gave up his job and his life to look after Tilly," she added. "Everywhere he went, she went. The community is totally devastated.

"Her two brothers are very active members in the club, and when she was 18 months old we all held a fundraiser for her and bought her a car to play around in, and a playhouse.

"The two boys were very close to her and the family have always supported us, and we support them. Tilly has always been very special to the club, and she has brought us all together because of her sickness. I think we all realised the importance of supporting the community.

"We know that she wasn't getting any more treatment, but we weren't expecting this to happen so quickly. I was chatting to her mum just last night and everything seemed to be as normal as it could be."

Facebook was flooded with tributes to the youngster yesterday following news of her death.

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