Big-hearted Will kicks his way to charity effort

Pictured is 9 years old Will Staniland
Pictured is 9 years old Will Staniland

WILL Staniland may only be nine, but that did not stop him leaping into action when he heard about a charity in the name of a young boy who had died of a rare brain tumour.

He set himself a kickboxing challenge - 1,000 kicks in one hour,

In the event, the Dore Primary pupil managed the feat in 30 minutes, raising more than £600 for Reuben’s Retreat - designed to be a tranquil place in the countryside for children with life limiting and life threatening illnesses and their families.

Will had never met Reuben Graham, who died at the age of 23 months after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancerous tumour that afflicts only four to five children a year in the UK and displays very few symptoms.

But he was determined to do his bit towards the appeal after being told of the tragedy by his mum, Maxine, who is a self-employed travel counsellor in Sheffield.

Maxine knew Reuben’s parents through the travel community, which is supporting the family’s campaign to raise £1m in 23 months, a month for each of those that comprised Reuben’s brief life.

First Will sold some old toys and raised £65, then he came up with the challenge at his Wednesday night kickboxing session with instructor Adrian Abdulla at the Sheffield Academy of Martial Arts at St Gabriel’s Church in Greystones.

“He did it alongside the training session,” said Maxine.

“There were people cheering him on and it only took him 30 minutes, although he was very tired afterwards. I am really proud he wanted to dedicate the time and money and effort into doing it, she added.

“In some ways, he has got an old head on his shoulders - nine going on 29! He has got this thing about raising money to help other people.”

Reuben was on a family holiday in Devon when he became seriously ill and a CT scan showed a large mass on his brain that turned out to be a tumour. Despite surgery, he died last August.

His family live in Mottram near Manchester and have vowed that he will leave a lasting legacy.

The proposed retreat in the north west countryside will have a support and bereavement counselling centre for parents and siblings who have lost children.

Will has not only thought about Reuben, but also his brother, Isaac, aged five, sending him a sticker book to say he is thinking about him. Maxine, who lives with husband Mark, a quality manager in a brewing supplies company, in Vernon Road, Dore, said: “He has got the bug about raising money. He plays rugby at Abbeydale Sports Centre so now he is thinking about trying to do something related to rugby.”

Reuben’s Retreat -