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Donor gives £150,000 from author's will to hospital which cared for son who died from cancer

PUBLISHED: 07:34 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:09 15 February 2019

Jack Wilkinson, who died of cancer aged 12 in 2006. Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH HOSPITAL

Jack Wilkinson, who died of cancer aged 12 in 2006. Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH HOSPITAL

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A mother has given £150,000 from author's will to the hospital which cared for her 12-year-old son before his death from cancer - so it can raise funds to build a new children's department.

Author Eric Vanlint asked six executors of his will to donate the money to charities in Suffolk working with young people. Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH HOSPITALAuthor Eric Vanlint asked six executors of his will to donate the money to charities in Suffolk working with young people. Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH HOSPITAL

Caz Wilkinson was one of six people asked to be an executor for the will of author Eric Vanlint following his death in April 2017, aged 91.

Mr Vanlint, who self-published 13 books and gave all the profits to charity, was a close friend of Mrs Wilkinson and formed a strong bond with her son Jack when the youngster’s rare form of bladder cancer returned in April 2005.

The condition eventually led to Jack’s death in August 2006.

“I wanted to give up but it was Eric’s courage that kept me going,” said Mrs Wilkinson, who had relocated from Wiltshire to Felixstowe with her family in 1997.

So when Mr Vanlint asked the executors of his estate to give his money to charities of their choice who work with young people in Suffolk, Mrs Wilkinson was in no doubt where the money should go.

She has given all £149,445 to Ipswich Hospital’s Children’s Appeal, designed to help raise the £2.5million needed to completely redevelop the children’s department at Ipswich Hospital and transform the experience of its young patients and their families.

“The Children’s Appeal at Ipswich Hospital couldn’t be more fitting,” Mrs Wilkinson said.

“Jack was treated at various hospitals but there was something reassuring about the continuity we had from the wonderful and supportive staff at Ipswich.

“I am particularly grateful to nurse Sarah Smith, who always made Jack laugh even when he was receiving end of life care at home. I know she made his illness a lot less scary for him.

“Jack would be 25 years old today and I know he would definitely agree with my decision to award Eric’s very kind gift to the Children’s Appeal.

“People don’t realise how significant charity contributions are to hospitals. They wouldn’t be the amazing places they are without them.”

It was also particularly fitting that Mr Valiant’s money should go to that cause, given he and Jack were said to be “kindred spirits”.

Ms Smith is now head of nursing for women’s and children’s services at Ipswich Hospital.

She said: “I remember Jack well. He had an amazing sense of humour and kept smiling even when times got tough. He was always so polite and thoughtful and I still have a book of his poetry.

“There is no doubt that this tremendous £149,445 legacy will help transform the children’s department. All the staff do a remarkable job at the moment, but to have an uplifting and functional environment to match their enthusiasm and dedication will be phenomenal.

“From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Caz, Jack and Eric for helping make our dream become one step closer to a reality.”

The Children’s Appeal is now one year old and has now raised £228,652 so far.

To support The Children’s Appeal or find out more, visit the website.

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