When the first Blue Day took place on April 4, 2008, the Prince family never imagined it would be so successful.
Nearly four years later and around £174,000 has been raised for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust from the five Blue Days held so far.
The total raised by the charity now stands at £664,000. That’s almost two-thirds of the the way to the family’s target to reach £1m to fund research into osteosarcoma – the form of bone cancer to which they tragically lost Tom, just a day before his 16th birthday.
Now, as we approach Blue Day 2012 on April 20, the family are still overwhelmed by the response.
Tom’s dad, Clinton, says: ‘It’s been a phenomenal success. Where the schools take part it’s part of their normal celebrations throughout the year. It’s fantastic that people have embraced it.’
He says that when 10-year-old Chloe Challoner lost her battle with the disease in January, it was another reminder of why they are working so hard to raise the money.
‘It brings it all home that there’s a need for it,’ he says.
‘I’d never heard of this terrible disease.
‘Tom used to play sports so often that it was brushed off as a sports injury and put to one side. When we got the diagnosis and the treatment, it was awful.’
But Clinton says that having Blue Day every year is something for the family to truly celebrate.
‘At the end of it you look at it and there’s a great sense of pride.
‘We could have rolled over and gone into a dark place and not come out. It’s too late for Tom, but if this can help one child then it’s a success.
‘The whole of Portsmouth celebrates. We’ve had some fantastic letters. People say they look forward to it every year.
‘It’s tremendous. It’s a marvellous world that we live in. It puts your faith back in the human race. We are all doing a good thing.’
Clinton adds: ‘Tom would stop and help anybody. He was probably one of the best footballers in his school and he was a smashing guy.
‘He would be proud of what his friends have done. He would be chuffed.
‘Portsmouth won an award for best football club in the community. For them to take part in Blue Day and get behind Tom’s trust is immense.
‘It’s fantastic for the club and the community. With all the trouble that Pompey are going through, they have still kept up the community spirit.
‘That’s what we are – we’re a community charity. It’s very important to have Portsmouth Football Club behind us because that was Tom’s passion.’
Tom’s mum, Adele, says: ‘We’re just overwhelmed that we’ve got the support and that it continues every year.
‘For the first Blue Day. nobody knew what it was going to be like. But it was beyond anybody’s expectations.
‘We hoped that we could make it an annual event. We are just so pleased that it has developed into that and The News and the community are still backing us. It’s amazing.
She adds: ‘We never know what support we’re going to get. You can’t predict or expect too much, you just hope that people are still going to show their support.
‘They still enjoy it – and it should be enjoyable.
‘They are raising funds for the charity and raising the profile, but they are also getting offices and schools together and having fun.
‘We do really appreciate it. It will make a difference. The research is vital. That’s the only way we’re going to make progress.’
Adele says she’ll be forever grateful to the people that have helped make Blue Day such a huge event and a massive success.
‘Without them we wouldn’t be raising this money,’ she says.
‘It’s the people that support us that make the difference.
‘We set up the charity in Tom’s memory with a target in mind to improve treatments for osteosarcoma. But we can only do so much.
‘It’s also about the people out there that have supported us and joined in on Blue Day and all the other events.
‘I think Tom would be proud of the fact that so many people get involved. It would mean a lot to him.’