A BRAVE, terminally-ill teenager says he wants to see two iconic Italian landmarks before he dies.
Charlie Hilton, 15, of Butts Road, Southwick, has been battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer for two years, and wants to visit the Coliseum in Rome and the Leaning Tower of Pisa while he has the chance.
Family, friends and well-wishers are trying to raise £10,000 to make Charlie’s wish come true and provide him and his family with ‘priceless memories’ for the future.
“The treatment for this cancer has terrible side effects and Charlie has bravely endured both the cancer and the treatment without complaint,” said neighbour Sylvia Whelan, who launched the fundrasing campaign, The Italian Job.
“This brave, unassuming lad has shown courage and endurance that few could ever hope to aspire to,” she added.
A sponsored walk from Hove Lagoon to Brighton Pier has been organised for Saturday, October 11, at 10am, and Charlie’s school, Shoreham Academy, is running a number of fundraising events over the coming weeks.
To date, the group has raised around £1,100, but needs much more.
The £10,000 will cover the cost of a nurse, flights, accommodation and other travel for Charlie, his mum and grandparents.
Liverpool fan Charlie, who enjoys learning about history at school, said he had always dreamed of seeing the landmarks with his own eyes and learning more about them.
Mum Lynda Hilton, 49, said it was a dream that was now becoming a reality.
The family said the support they had received from their neighbours the Whelans had been ‘overwhelming’.
“It’s incredible what they are doing for us,” said Charlie’s grandfather, Dave Hilton, a retired police officer.
Charlie’s battle with cancer began in August, 2012, when it was first diagnosed.
Almost exactly two years later, the family was told it would be terminal.
“When I heard the news I felt really angry,” said Charlie. “I just walked out of the room and collapsed.”
Mum Lynda said: “You just go blank and then the emotion starts. But all of a sudden, you start to get into a routine and take each day as it comes.
“You have to make the most of it and that’s what we do.
“We don’t look far ahead because you can’t do that.
“We just get on and enjoy doing things as a family and try not to think about it.”
Because Charlie has such a rare form of cancer, doctors were unable to say how long he was expected to live.
Charlie said the worst thing about his treatment was not knowing what was going to happen next.
“It’s rubbish, to be honest,” he said. “When you first start, you think you will have meds and that’s it. But it’s the tubes they put in, the operations you could have, the tiredness, the hair loss, the weight loss, the blood transfusions. Your bones ache.
“People say it must be dreadful but you actually have no idea what it’s like unless you go through it yourself.”
Charlie and his family praised for staff at Worthing and Southampton hospitals, who they said had been ‘amazing’.
While undergoing chemotherapy, Charlie supported his grandfather through his own battle with cancer.
“He was fantastic, absolutely incredible,” said Dave, 74, who has since been given the all-clear.
Charlie got engaged to his fiancé, 16-year-old Molly Draper, just a fortnight ago.
The pair met at Southampton Hospital, where Molly was undergoing treatment for leukaemia.
Charlie proposed to Molly on the rocks at Southwick beach, where she burst into tears before saying ‘yes’. The couple plan to wed next year.
Donations to Charlie’s fund can be made by visiting www.justgiving.com/yimby/tij