How Blue Day helped the Tom Prince Cancer Trust to power past £1m

Blue Day fundraising walkers leave Fratton Park in 2016
Blue Day fundraising walkers leave Fratton Park in 2016
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Pompey season ticket-holder Tom Prince was not only a massive fan of the club, but of football in general.

The youngster played for three different teams, but still found the time to go to Fratton Park at 3pm on a Saturday and watch his beloved Blues.

Tom Prince  with 'Bubba', the bull terrier bought for him by Harry Redknapp

Tom Prince with 'Bubba', the bull terrier bought for him by Harry Redknapp

He lived with his family around the corner from the club in Haslemere Road, Fratton, and was described by his parents Adele and Clinton and older sister Emma as always living life to the fullest.

But in February 2003, teenager Tom and his family were given the devastating news that he had a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma.

The cancer was in his humerus, which was removed and replaced with a titanium implant as part of his treatment, which also included 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

When his treatment had finished, Tom returned to school and carried on with his life.

But in January 2004, scans showed metastasis had grown and he needed surgery on both lungs, which was followed by six more sessions of chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, in September, more tumours were found including in his brain and there was nothing more doctors could do.

Tom died a few weeks later on October 18, the eve of his 16th birthday.

In his memory Adele and Clinton decided to set up the Tom Prince Cancer Trust and vowed to raise £1m for research into the rare cancer that Tom died from.

From that year, fundraisers started from walks, bike rides and black-tie galas attended by then-Pompey manager Harry Redknapp and a number of players.

In less than two years, the trust hit its first landmark after raising £100,000.

This is one of the highlights from the past 13 years for Tom’s mum, Adele.

She says: ‘Hitting that first £100,000 was a real highlight.

‘That was amazing and when we realised this was something serious that we had started.

‘It showed how much effort everyone had put into it to reach £100,000. It was incredible.’

In 2008, every Pompey fan’s dream came true – the club were going to Wembley Stadium for the semi-final of the FA Cup.

Tom’s family knew how much the achievement would have meant to Tom, so launched one of the trust’s biggest annual fundraisers, Blue Day.

On April 4, the Spinnaker Tower shone blue and hundreds of people dressed in blue and held blue-themed activities to raise money for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust.

Backed by The News and Pompey, the first Blue Day was a massive success, raising £50,000.

Then, just a few weeks later, the city did it again after Pompey won their semi-final and got ready for the FA Cup final at Wembley against Cardiff, which they also won.

Since then, Blue Day has been held every year before Pompey’s last home game of the season.

Businesses, schools and organisations from the city and further afield dress in blue, decorate their classrooms and offices with blue decorations and sell blue cupcakes.

The day makes many happy memories for the Prince family, who are grateful to the support the city has always shown.

Emma, Tom’s sister, says: ‘I remember one of the first Blue Days, going down Albert Road and seeing blue everywhere, it was amazing.

‘Going to work in the morning and seeing children dressed in blue was a great feeling.

‘Ten years on from the first Blue Day we still have people asking us when it is and if it is still going ahead so people are keen to take part.

‘It is always a great day.’

The family have lots of memories of Blue Day and other fundraisers over the years.

They include concerts with bands offering to play for free, a little girl selling friendship bracelets to raise money, people handing over piggy banks and putting cheques through their front door.

Emma says there are too many people to list but all have made a difference to the trust and their fundraising appeal.

Nearly 500 different organisations have backed Blue Day and the event in 2016 pushed the trust past its £1m target.

Adele adds: ‘We are always amazed at the support people show for the trust.

‘Everything we do for the trust is in Tom’s name and memory so it is very personal. It is run by us, his family, and I think that has contributed to the support we have got.

‘Tom was from Portsmouth and loved the football club, so people could really relate to us when we spoke about what we are trying to do.’

n For more information on the trust visit tomprince.co.uk.