Published: 00:01, 06 August 2018
The parents of a five-year-old girl who died after a long battle with a brain tumour have started a charity offering families in similar situations a seaside getaway.
Eva Giles, of Mickleburgh Hill, Herne Bay, was given nine months to live when she was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in April 2016.
After her death almost a year later, her heartbroken parents, Emma and Dean Giles, decided to keep her memory alive by establishing a charity in her name.
Called Eva's Angels, it aims to give recently bereaved families, or those with children battling cancer, the opportunity to have a break in a caravan overlooking the sea in Whitstable.
Emma, 41, said: “It’s all about getting away from hospital appointments and normal day-to-day life. For Eva, it was such a big thing to be able to go on holiday as a family.
“We were given holidays by other charities, so we went to Center Parcs, Longleat Safari and Peppa Pig World.
“At the time I hated the expression ‘making memories’, but, looking back, I’m so glad that’s what we did. They’re some of my most cherished.”
She added that the holidays gave her family “a break from normal life somewhere we didn’t have to worry”.
“It doesn’t make you forget,” Emma explained. “But for a few days it helps you feel normal again.”
The charity receives referrals from other charities and the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, which is where Eva was treated.
The family of a three-year-old girl fighting leukaemia was the first stay at the caravan in the Seaview Holiday Park a fortnight ago. It is now fully booked until the second week of September.
“They’re short getaways,” Emma said. “You can either book Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday.
“The people staying there are a combination of families who have lost a child to cancer or have a child who is fighting cancer.”
Eva suffered from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) which forms in a part of the brainstem, known as the pons, that controls vital functions like walking and talking.
It affects between 20 and 30 children in the UK every year and there is no effective treatment.
But Eva, who attended Herne Bay Infant School, bravely fought the disease, undergoing numerous rounds of radiotherapy and immunotherapy.
“We’re trying to keep Eva’s memory alive through the charity,” Emma said. “It means I can continue her legacy and still talk about her all the time.”
For more information about the charity, visit evasangels.org.