TEENAGER Harry Banks has special reason to celebrate The Sun on Sunday’s tenth birthday – the newspaper helped save his life.
Thousands of YOU, our kind and generous readers, were moved to tears three years ago when we reported how a rare form of cancer had left Harry with just months to live.
With the NHS unable to offer treatment, Harry’s only hope of survival was travelling to Spain to take part in a ground-breaking trial.
As his parents faced a terrifying race against time, The Sun on Sunday featured his story on January 26, 2019.
And thanks to YOUR generous donations, the family managed to raise the £500,000 needed to get Harry abroad to treat his neuroblastoma.
Jetzt, three years on, sports-mad Harry, 13, is clear of the disease.
Smiling broadly at home in Woburn Sands, Dollar, he said yesterday: “Happy birthday to The Sun on Sunday. And thank you to every one of the readers for all you’ve done for me. I realise I have been very lucky.
“There were other children I met along the way, including my friends, Shay and Isla, who sadly didn’t make it, which really upsets me.
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Feiern Sie das Ende der fünfmonatigen Abschirmung während der Pandemie – und gewannen Sie 500.000 £’ Feiern Sie das Ende der fünfmonatigen Abschirmung während der Pandemie – und gewannen Sie 500.000 £
“So to be here today and to have had all those donations and all that support is really special.”
Celebrity support from Harry’s heroes — including former England cricket captain Alastair Cook and England rugby union stars including Dylan Hartley, Harry Mallinder, and Marcus Smith — helped spread his story across the globe, prompting donations to flood in from as far away as Australia.
Mum Nina, 44, sagte: “The support was overwhelming. We had thousands of donations from places as far away as China, Canada and Australia.
“His story went around the world and we are forever grateful for the support we received.”
Harry is just one of thousands of people who have had their lives transformed by The Sun on Sunday’s campaigning journalism.
Im 2018 we launched our Beat The Blades campaign in a bid to help tackle Britain’s knife crime epidemic.
And by raising awareness, we helped beef up the law on knife crime by highlighting a loophole that meant thugs who used weapons to threaten people on private property were immune from prosecution.
FLEE THEIR HOME
Later that year, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered a change to the Offensive Weapons Bill so that threatening a partner with a knife during a domestic row now carries a sentence of up to four years in jail.
Colin James and Ray Lewis, who have been helping to rehabilitate youngsters through the Gangs Unite charity since 2011, helped launch the campaign.
Colin said: “It was great that The Sun on Sunday got involved with their Beat The Blades campaign and I was proud to be a part of it.
“We highlighted a lot of important issues and raised awareness but there’s still so much to do. We’ve got to keep fighting the good fight.”
Im 2014 we helped Gaza toddler Hala al Massri fly to London for a life-saving operation.
Hala was born with a congenital heart defect and with limited medical provision in Gaza, the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund charity teamed up with UK cardiac charity Chain of Hope, which offered to organise and pay for Hala’s surgery in London.
Angel of Kabul
WE helped to reunite the toddler nicknamed the Angel of Kabul with his mother in Britain.
Little Mohammed Raza, zwei, was torn from his family as desperate Afghans scrambled to board mercy flights to escape the Taliban takeover in August last year.
His mother Basbibi boarded an RAF flight to Dubai minutes before a blast killed several members of her family and badly injured the tiny tot.
Mohammed needed a series of operations on his stomach after shrapnel ripped into his body.
When The Sun on Sunday found him in hospital, he had been given just a 30 per cent chance of survival.
But after we highlighted his plight, he was taken to the UK in October on an RAF flight supported by medics.
Basbibi, 19, sagte: “I am so grateful to The Sun on Sunday and the British Government for finally getting him back to me. I never stopped crying when I was separated from my baby.
“Knowing that I couldn’t be there to help him was the worst.
“Mohammed is still recovering from his injuries but it’s a miracle he survived.
“I’m so happy we can finally start to rebuild our lives – this time in a country that has already given us so much.”
But then the three-year-old girl and her family became trapped in fighting and had to flee their home after it was gassed then destroyed by an Israeli shell. Hala’s only hope of life was escaping Gaza during a 72-hour ceasefire.
The Sun on Sunday stepped in after Chain of Hope notified us that an emergency UK medical visa was proving difficult to obtain.
Red Cross officials secured Hala an exit permit out of Gaza and after The Sun on Sunday briefed UK government officials, they helped speed up the visa process.
The youngster then underwent a complex four-hour operation to repair a hole in her heart at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.
Hala, who is now ten, returned to Gaza with her mother Mahdeya shortly after the operation and has yearly check-ups through ultrasound scans of her heart.
She is now healthy and thriving physically thanks to the operation. Of her daughter’s recovery, Mahdeya, 43, sagte: “Life here in Gaza is still very hard and our future is not certain but Hala now has a chance of life that we thought would never be possible.
“We are so grateful to everyone who helped Hala, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Chain of Hope and The Sun on Sunday.
“They saved my daughter’s life and we will never forget what they did to help us.”
Sadly not everyone could be saved by our efforts. But little Ollie Sweeney was able to make precious memories for his family to treasure for ever thanks to your generosity.
When we featured his story in March 2021, he was free of neuroblastoma but needed life-saving treatment in Spain to prevent a relapse. You donated in your thousands and raised £14,000.
The happy four-year-old flew to Barcelona the following month with mum Lucy, a hairdresser and her plasterer husband Gary, beide 36, with his brother Jake, zwei, thanks to the incredible efforts of readers.
But tragically, before he could receive treatment, scans showed the cancer was back and the youngster had to undergo more chemotherapy.
Ollie’s parents were able to fly him home a couple of weeks later but sadly there was nothing more the doctors could do for their happy, smiley and incredibly brave son.
Im Juli 18, 2021, little Ollie passed away peacefully at home with his devoted mum and dad by his side.
Lucy said: “If it wasn’t for The Sun on Sunday, and all those generous people touched by Ollie’s story, we would never have had those weeks with him playing at the beach.
“It was just absolutely unbelievable how much was raised after sharing Ollie’s story with The Sun on Sunday. It meant we were able to fly out to Barcelona.
“It was the final push we had needed after so many other people had helped to raise money for Ollie before we shared our story.”
THE Sun on Sunday has this year been helping readers combat the soaring cost of living with our brilliant Squeeze Team campaign.
Our panel of experts are helping you to keep bills down as inflation and energy costs shoot up.
Single mum Symone McKitty-Smith felt trapped in debt until our Squeeze Team helped her to save £1,000.
Energy expert Tashema Jackson visited nurse Symone’s home in Manchester last month and helped to shave hundreds of pounds off her bills.
Symone, 30, told us afterwards: “I can’t thank you all enough.
“This latest energy bill terrified me. The debt has been crippling.”
Best for babies
OUR brilliant readers helped with our 2020 Christmas campaign to support premature babies, by knitting more than 20,000 blankets.
The Sun on Sunday’s Knit A Lot, Help A Tot appeal was launched with Bliss, the UK charity dedicated to tots born prematurely or poorly.
Bliss chief executive Caroline Lee-Davey said of the appeal: “We have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of Sun on Sunday readers.
“This has been the most successful knitting campaign in Bliss’s history.”