Belfast Telegraph

Ladbrokes fundraisers aiming to keep wee Oscar Knox's memory alive

By Claire Williamson and Joanne Sweeney

They never even met him, but they are determined to keep Oscar Knox's memory alive.

The five-year-old who bravely battled cancer had such an effect on staff at a Ladbrokes bookmakers that they are holding a fundraiser in aid of the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.

The seven-strong team at the shop on the Falls Road are selling tickets for the event, which will be hosted by Jackie Fullerton at The Devenish Complex in Finaghy, south Belfast, tomorrow.

Oscar's parents Stephen and Leona will be among the guests attending the event.

And entertainment will be provided by local artists including the Britain's Got Talent finalist Jordan O'Keefe, who presented Oscar with the overall award at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland award last year.

Northern Ireland's world super bantamweight boxing champion Carl Frampton, who was friendly with the little boy, has also donated the boots from his recent title-winning fight to be auctioned off by the hospice.

Falls Roads shop manager and event organiser Nicola Perry (34) said she hoped that thousands of pounds would be raised in the tragic child's honour.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "We followed Oscar every step of the way. Everybody just fell in love with him. We felt that we were with him throughout the whole story.

"We all breathed a sigh of relief when we knew he had got the all-clear, but we felt it when we heard he was ill again and had to be moved into the hospice."

Nicola, who knew Oscar's father as a teenager, added: "These children (in the hospice) cannot go out and fundraise for themselves, so for me it's the most valuable charity there is because there are children whose stories that we will never hear about.

"We got to hear Oscar's story, but there are 250 children there who we will never meet".

For 25-year-old counter clerk Sean Ryan, getting involved was an obvious decision.

"I have a child myself and it's good to know that if there was ever anything wrong with her, the hospice would be there to help," he said. "It's an absolutely amazing charity."

His colleague Orla McAlorun added: "Wee Oscar just touched everybody's hearts. We feel that we knew him and that he was just a brave boy who brought people together."

Oscar died on May 8, but his courage in the face of neuroblastoma touched people here and abroad, and his parents decided to keep an online diary documenting his fight.

Tickets for the event are £10. A limited number are left. They can be bought from from The Devenish, Kolormaster or the Falls Road Ladbrokes.

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