A Hereford dad has raised almost £3,500 for the charity, Molly Ollys which has supported his young son through cancer – just months after losing his wife to the same disease.

Jamie Gittins ran the Cardiff Half Marathon last weekend (Sunday 27th March) in 2 hours 45 minutes, dressed as Olly The Brave. The Warwickshire-based charity is well-known for its therapeutic soft toy lion which helps to normalise the effects of chemotherapyand Jamie was adamant he was going to run kitted out as Olly!

Jamie said: “I have never been so hot in all my life as when I was wearing the lion suit during the half marathon. But there was never any doubt that I wouldn’t run in it as Molly Ollys has been so supportive to my eight-year-old son, Freddie who is being treated for leukaemia. 

“This amazing charity not only sent Fred an Olly The Brave to comfort him, but they also organised for Fred and my other son, Noah, 11, to go to a VIP evening of WWE live wrestling which was Fred’s ultimate wish. Seeing the joy on their faces made the boiling hot trek in the suit worth it!”

Training and preparing for the half marathon has been a challenge for 40-year-old Jamie, as he has had to take Freddie back and forth regularly to hospital for various treatments at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. But after what the family has been through over the past 18 months, they are not fazed by anything.

Jamie, who is head of Kings Caple Primary School in Hereford, explains that Freddie was diagnosed with leukaemia only three months after Fred’s mum, Emma, died from breast cancer aged 41.

Jamie said: “Telling the boys Em had died was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. It absolutely broke their hearts. All the family were there because I said I didn’t think I could do it on my own. 

“But then having to tell Freddie that he also had cancer was another heart-breaking moment in my life that haunts me to this day. But the oncologist told me that if you’re going to get leukaemia, the type Fred’s got, is the best one to get. The success rate is over 90% for his age. It has been rough for many months, but he will be OK.”

Molly Ollys was set up following the experiences of Molly over the five years she received treatment for kidney cancer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Since the Charity started 10 years old, it has supported more than 16,000 children across the UK, it has given more than 13,000 Olly lions and books to children and has donated more than 2,500 wishes.

Co-founder of Molly Ollys and Molly’s mum, Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Jamie and the boys are just amazing. We have been truly inspired by their strength and bravery and we are very grateful to Jamie for raising funds for us by running the half marathon. Each wish we donate to a child costs around £500, so the money Jamie has raised will pay for 7 wishes for 7 children facing unimaginable health challenges, and it will help to put smiles on their faces – just like the ones on Fred and Noah’s faces after WWE!

“Jamie attracted lots of attention and awareness for Molly Ollys by sporting the suit. We thought he was crazy to wear it, but we applaud his stamina and determination and the money will make a very real difference to very poorly children.”

Freddie is now on his final round of treatment which should finish towards the end of April.

Jamie said: “Once this block is done, he’ll be able to have his lines out and will be in maintenance, where everything calms down a little and the treatment is not so intense. He will still have treatment for the next couple of years or so, but it won’t be as regular as it has been up until now.”

You can still donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamie-gittins3

Visit Molly Ollys at: www.mollyolly.co.uk