Little Charlie inspires a charity for children and firefighter families

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WHEN Charlie Codling was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour his family made his last five months before he died the best a little boy could have.

Now his mum Karen and dad Steve want to help other families.

FAMILY From left, Karen, Freya, Steve and Charlie Codling pictured in Brighton in 2011

FAMILY From left, Karen, Freya, Steve and Charlie Codling pictured in Brighton in 2011

The pair have launched Charlie’s Beach Hut Fund, giving the families of children with cancer a place to go for a week to enjoy and have happy memories.

In honour of Charlie’s love for firefighters, they will also give five firefighter families with children suffering from illness or bereavement a stay in the caravan each year.

After his diagnosis mum Karen, 40, and dad Steve, 41, of Caspar John Close, Stubbington said they vowed to live by the motto ‘find the wonderful in today’.

Karen said: ‘Charlie was heavily into being a firefighter, so it is also for poorly children of firefighters or bereaved children of firefighters.

‘If we can give a family a week that gives them lots of memories, that’s vital – all the things we did we’ve got lots of memories.

‘We had so many people help us but I don’t think everybody does.’

Charlie died on September 6 last year, two days before his fifth birthday.

His parents, of Caspar John Close, Stubbington, organised a poignant funeral, with Blaze Bear from Gosport fire station acting as a pall bearer.

He had been diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a tumour in the middle of the brain stem, on March 23 last year.

Charlie had come home from pre-school with a tremor in his hand when Karen decided to take him to the doctors.

But in just 48 hours both parents were told he had between nine and 12 months to live – he had just five and was left unable to move or talk.

Steve added: ‘Even though it was a living nightmare, I’d rather be back there than where I am today because Charlie was with us then.

‘Every day we could make him smile, it didn’t matter how much he wasn’t moving.

‘We could still make him laugh, you could see it in his eyes and that meant a lot to us. Just knowing that he was still Charlie inside.’

A huge number of people rallied around his naval rating mum and officer dad, seeing him visit Legoland and have Pompey players come to his home.

Now the pair want to channel the support to sending 10 families to the caravan in Perranporth, Cornwall. It will cost the family £15,000 a year to run.

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KIND-HEARTED Brad Groves did not think twice when he first heard about Charlie’s condition.

He instantly decided to help, putting on a football tournament to raise cash to send Charlie away on holiday to Disneyland.

Brad, of Park Lane, in Cowplain, raised a staggering £4,500 for Charlie.

Last month he did it again – this time raising an incredible £4,700 at Goals in Portsmouth for Charlie’s Beach Hut Fund.

Brad, 20, said: ‘It touched me really.

‘I decided to have a tournament to raise money for him to have a holiday.

‘We knew he was going to go so I thought it would be nice for them to have a time away. He got worse and then they couldn’t go – that’s when they bought the beach hut. You don’t know how much they’ve gone through.’

Last year Brad did not stop at raising cash for the Codling family.

He asked players and friends, Ashley Harris and Sam Magri, to visit the youngster at his home in Stubbington.

He added: ‘I saw little Charlie was a Pompey fan. Two of my mates played for Pompey and I arranged for them to drive over to Charlie’s house.’

Charlie’s mum Karen described Brad as ‘incredible’ for what he did after he found out about Charlie through Steve’s other children.

Karen added: ‘It was completely his own idea... he did everything. We were amazed, he’s a very unassuming guy.’