Heartbreak as brave Sophie Fairall, 10, loses cancer battle and dies surrounded by her family in Stubbington
A COURAGEOUS little girl diagnosed with terminal cancer lost her fight for life over the weekend, taking her final breath in the loving embrace of her mother’s arms.
Inspirational 10-year-old Sophie Fairall died surrounded by family in her Stubbington home at 9.12am on Saturday as her heartbroken mother, Charlotte, cuddled her.
The youngster had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in September last year – a rare type of cancer that forms in children’s soft tissue like skeletal muscle.
Despite the devastating prognosis, ‘positive’ Sophie tackled it with a determined smile and set about completing her ‘bucket list’ – which included working a day at a shop and cooking with Gordon Ramsay – in a move that touched the hearts of the nation.
Her story of courage even reached the camp of England football heroes Jack Grealish and Portsmouth’s own Mason Mount - who both took time out of the World Cup qualifying training last week to send her messages of encouragement.
Announcing her daughter’s death via social media, devastated mum Charlotte said: ‘I'm absolutely heartbroken, pain I can't even describe, all I can say is it's the most painful thing I've ever experienced. Part of me died today and I will never be the same again.
‘Sophie had so much more to give and it shouldn't have been this way. She was the most beautiful, funny, caring, strongest girl ever.
‘She would light up a room wherever she went. She made an impression on people with her smile and personality and even if it was an hour you ever spent with her she would leave an impression.’
After her diagnosis, Sophie launched a spirited fundraising campaign in aid of children’s cancer charity Alice’s Ark.
When Sophie’s death was announced on Saturday, hundreds of heartbroken strangers rallied, donating a whopping £30,000 in the space of hours - with cash pledges still coming as The News went to press last night.
Meanwhile, in Stubbington, gold ribbons – the internationally-recognised symbol for childhood cancer – were adorned to homes and yellow and gold balloons released into the sky in honour of Sophie.
‘The outpouring of love has been amazing,’ said Charlotte. ‘On JustGiving we received £30,000 in one day which shows how much she has touched people’s lives - and It’s still coming in. It’s just unbelievable.
‘Stubbington turned yellow and gold with balloons and banners everywhere. I always knew she touched people’s hearts but you don’t realise until she dies how much she did… It’s like the community has given us a virtual hug.’
The night before her death, Sophie celebrated her older sister Lucy’s 15th birthday, with family singing songs.
And in a touching display, Sophie even managed to keep a present for her sister secretly hidden under her bed, which was given to Lucy in one of Sophie’s final acts of selfless kindness.
Charlotte said she was overflowing with pride at her daughter’s bravery and believed her little girl had clung to life to celebrate her beloved sister’s birthday.
She added: ‘She showed everyone even to the bitter end that she wasn’t going to give up. All the medical team didn’t expect her to live that extra week longer but she did.
‘She wasn’t willing to give up. I said to her on Thursday you don’t need to fight anymore. She said, “yes, mummy, I do”. I said to her why do you need to fight. She just wanted to show that what everyone needs to do is to keep fighting and to never give up.’
Sophie leaves behind her mother Charlotte, dad Gareth and sisters Amelia, nine, and Lucy.
To donate to Sophie’s fundraising campaign, see justgiving.com/fundraising/charlotte-fairall5