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Family of Joe Ward-Bates, from Stalisfield, tell of heartbreak over his death just weeks after brain tumour diagnosis

The family of a six-year-old boy described as a “shining star” have been left heartbroken by his death just 12 weeks after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Little Joe Ward-Bates - who was obsessed with Lego - was found in September to have a rare and incurable cancer called DIPG.

Joe Ward-Bates was diagnosed with a DIPG tumour in September
Joe Ward-Bates was diagnosed with a DIPG tumour in September

He died before Christmas surrounded by his family at the home in Stalisfield he shared with his mum Becky, dad Michael and sister Lucy.

His uncle, Matthew Murray, has spoken of the family’s heartache and the cherished memories they shared with him.

“On December 14, at 5.31pm, the sky gained another star,” he said.

“And what a shining star he is.

“He passed peacefully with his family and his dog around him - we were just lucky he wasn’t suffering as long as he could have been.But after being diagnosed on September 19 and passing on December 14, we just couldn’t fulfil all his dreams in that time.”

Joe with dad Michael, sister Lucy and mum Becky
Joe with dad Michael, sister Lucy and mum Becky

Following his diagnosis, Joe’s family took him for a trip to Center Parcs, where he was given VIP treatment.

But they were dealt a blow in November when doctors said radiotherapy treatment was not working.

Mr Murray cut short a trip to Australia to fly back and surprise his family after hearing the devastating news.

“It was a special moment, which according to my sisters, was the first time they had smiled in months,” he said.

He says Joe’s death has left a hole in the family.

Joe Ward-Bates with Lego sets he proudly built while being treated at King's College Hospital
Joe Ward-Bates with Lego sets he proudly built while being treated at King's College Hospital

“There are no words to describe what we are feeling,” he said.

“I went outside a couple of hours after and the first thing I saw when I looked up was a shooting star - that was our Joey.

“When you look up in the sky tonight, look out for the brightest star. That’s him giving you his classic cheeky smile back.”

Joe’s parents have allowed his tumour to be used for research into DIPG tumours, which are primary high-grade brain tumours affecting children

Joe Ward-Bates with his uncle Matthew Murray
Joe Ward-Bates with his uncle Matthew Murray

“Becky and Michael both made that decision to do so, which I stand by as well,” Mr Murray added. “If it can do anything to help find more information about this rare tumour, then it must be taken.

“This has really put my life in perspective and has made me realise how short and sudden life can change.

“Do not take it for granted and do all you can, because tomorrow it may all change.”

Joe’s funeral will be held at 1.45pm on Monday (January 6) at Charing Crematorium, with a wake to follow at The Bowl Inn, Charing Hill.

Little Joe - who had a 'cheeky smile' - adored Lego
Little Joe - who had a 'cheeky smile' - adored Lego

Matthew added: “It is an open funeral for those who would like to attend for our shooting star.

“The colour code is going to be yellow/gold, which is Joey’s favourite colour, and the men of the family are wearing Lego-themed ties, which of course was what he was obsessed with and would have loved.”

The family are asking for donations to Abbie’s Army, a brain tumour research charity founded by the parents of a young girl who died from DIPG.

Mr Murray said: “I would like to again thank every single person who has messaged, donated, shown up to the auction night and just been so supportive, generous and kind.

"I love you Joe, you’ll always be in our hearts.”

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