After being diagnosed with Leukaemia in October 2012, 11 year old Harry Kemp turned to the things he loved most to distract him from his treatment – trains, cars and all things fast! So when he was offered the chance to achieve that well-known boyhood dream and ride in the cab of a real train, he wasn't going to turn it down…
Harry, who is from Swindon, was diagnosed on Halloween with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, after complaining of double vision. He had the first of four cycles of chemotherapy just two days later, which left him with no hair and a very low immune system. From November to mid-March, Harry was either at home or hospital-bound as he regularly picked up infections and so couldn't go to school. He finished his last round of chemotherapy in February and now has gone back to school, though only part-time so far.
Harry’s Mum, Emma, said: “One of the toughest parts of Harry’s illness was the disruption to family life because either myself or my husband Paul would stay with Harry in hospital and the other would be at home with his older sister, Jessica."
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Harry’s wish started at London Euston, where he was greeted by Virgin Trains’ Driver Team Manager, Girish Jani, before getting the exclusive opportunity to ride in the cab alongside driver Craig Brooks all the way to Crewe. Harry learnt what all the different buttons did, got to see just how fast trains can go and even got to sound the horn which, in his words, was “epic”! Once Harry and his family had arrived at Crewe, they were whisked to the Virgin Trains Talent Academy where they were able to experience a train simulator and explore a disused train, before heading back to London in First Class.
Emma again: “I haven’t got the right words to say how grateful we are for being given the opportunity to spend time together as a family and not have to worry about Harry and hospital appointments. It was lovely to see our children smiling and laughing…’thank you’ doesn’t cover it.”