VIP day at 10 Downing Street for brave little Houghton Regis girl

Holly-May Chapman, front row fifth from left, at 10 Downing Street
Holly-May Chapman, front row fifth from left, at 10 Downing Street

A brave Houghton Regis girl, who fought for her life after being diagnosed with an extremely aggressive cancer, enjoyed a VIP visit to Downing Street.

Five-year-old Holly-May Chapman was given the treat in the week that new figures were revealed showing cancer deaths in children and young people have fallen by 58 per cent in the UK over the past 40 years.

Holly-May, a pupil at Hadrian Academy, Dunstable, was guest of honour at a special reception, hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha, to launch Cancer Research UK’s new fundraising campaign Kids & Teens.

She joined 20 youngsters from across the UK – all diagnosed with cancer – who visited Number 10 to have their bravery recognised and help raise awareness of the urgent need to boost funds for research.

They also met celebrities and enjoyed a sight-seeing tour of London as part of their VIP experience last week.

The charity is calling on people across Bedfordshire to donate to beat childhood cancers sooner and help save more lives like Holly-May’s.

Every year, around 1,600 children aged 14 and under are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

Helen Johnstone, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Bedfordshire, said: “It’s hugely encouraging to see deaths for children’s cancers falling steadily. But we must make faster progress to save more lives, so we’re extremely grateful for the support of the Chapman family and Samantha Cameron in helping to highlight the power of research in beating the disease.”

Holly-May was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 22 months old.

Her dad, John, thought she was suffering from a collapsed lung after seeing similar symptoms through his work as a police officer.

His knowledge and quick response probably helped to save his daughter’s life.

Within hours she had been rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where the family’s world was turned upside down after learning she had cancer.

Holly-May was given only three months to live and a 50/50 chance of surviving surgery.

But she beat all the odds and today she is in remission and doing well.

Her mum, Katrina, said: “Holly-May endured months of treatment with unbelievable strength and resilience. Her dad and I couldn’t be more proud of her so I’m delighted that her courage has been honoured with such a fantastic day.

“Going to 10 Downing Street was an unforgettable experience for so many reasons, but most importantly because through supporting Cancer Research UK we can help to spare other children and families from this devastating disease in future.

“Success stories like Holly-May’s would not be possible without the charity’s life-saving work, which in turn relies on everyone who raises funds, so we hope people in Bedfordshire will really get behind this crucial campaign.”

Celebrities at the Downing Street reception included Peter Andre and his fiancée Emily MacDonagh, The Saturdays’ Rochelle Humes and presenters Kirstie Allsopp, Charlotte Hawkins, Donna Air and Sara Cox.