A PROUD grandfather has said a big ‘thank-you’ to all those who have helped make his terminally-ill grandson’s final wish come true.
Charlie Hilton, 15, of Butts Road, Southwick, has been battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer for two years, and wanted to visit the Colosseum in Rome and the Leaning Tower of Pisa while he still has the chance.
“He found the whole experience absolutely incredible,” said Dave Hilton, Charlie’s grandfather.
Charlie – accompanied by his mother Lynda, grandparents Dave and Pam, fiancé Molly Draper, and her mother Sharon – enjoyed a two-week cruise around Europe, stopping at several locations along the way.
The cruise ship was The Queen Elizabeth, the third in the Cunard’s fleet.
“It was absolutely huge. The service there was superb, we were all waited on hand and foot,” he said.
“We had entertainment like an orchestra, jazz band, singers, dancers and a comedian.”
The trip included a stop- off at a number of locations including Athens, Albania, Sicily, Naples and Rome.
Asking for his family and fiancé to be by his side, Charlie wanted a trip for them all to remember.
“This was Charlie’s wish. He said he wanted us all with him and share these memories, and we still don’t know how long we’ve got with him,” said Dave.
“It was also what the people who did the fundraising insisted on.”
Charlie was able to experience the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, but unfortunately a protest was taking place by the Colosseum on the day of their arrival, so the family were unable to see it in person. However, there is a silver lining.
“The fundraisers were so successful that there’s enough money for him to go to Rome next year, as long as he’s well enough,” he added.
Over the last year, a number of events were organised to help raise the money needed to make Charlie’s dying wish come true, including a quiz night.
With councillor Emma Evans as the main driving force, the community came together to raise around £10,000 for the trip of a lifetime.
Dave said: “Thank you to everyone who contributed. There’s still money coming in so Charlie can continue to enjoy himself.”
He would also like to extend his thanks to Shoreham Academy for raising more than £5,000 and the Herald for its publicity.