St Albans digs deep: a staggering £135,000 raised for sick toddler

PUBLISHED: 15:15 01 February 2018

Isla Austin with a nurse at GOSH. Picture: Rick Austin

Isla Austin with a nurse at GOSH. Picture: Rick Austin

Archant

A staggering £135,000 has been collected in just five weeks for a sick toddler who desperately needs life-saving experimental treatment.

Fundraising for Isla at London Colney Sainsbury's. Picture: Rick AustinFundraising for Isla at London Colney Sainsbury's. Picture: Rick Austin

With the help of the Herts Ad, fundraisers from St Albans and across the world have stepped in to support two-year-old Isla Austin, who lives in Leverstock Green.

She was found to have stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma in late 2016 after a growth on her cheek appeared. Further tests revealed tumours growing in her kidney, legs and ribs.

Although Isla is currently in remission, the chances of relapse are devastatingly high and only ten per cent of patients survive a reoccurrence.

However, an experimental clinical trial at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center holds a glimmer of hope for Isla. The Bivalent Vaccine aims to lower chances of relapse, but costs £155,000 and means repeated trips to America over the next year.

Fundraising for Isla at London Colney Sainsbury's. Picture: Rick AustinFundraising for Isla at London Colney Sainsbury's. Picture: Rick Austin

Isla’s dad Rick has been furiously fundraising ever since he was presented with the daunting task: “It took five weeks and we have got £135,000 which is incredible.

“It’s amazing, it’s the power of having great friends and family, and social media sharing the story, and you guys [the Herts Ad] with the front page story.

“When you hear of people donating it’s unbelievable, it’s a fantastic feeling.”

He is overwhelmed with support coming from all over the world. For example Ben Le Gassick is swimming 2km in shark-infested waters off a beach in Sydney for sponsorship money.

Fundraising for Isla at St Albans market. Picture: Rick AustinFundraising for Isla at St Albans market. Picture: Rick Austin

Isla was also treated to a phone call from Frozen’s Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff, who promised to visit Isla in New York when she flies over for treatment.

Closer to home, St Albans local Clare Wallis is running 12 26 mile marathons over the next year in aid of the cause.

She said: “[Rick is] a great friend and father with a beautiful family. With three young children, Rick and Anna have their hands full but take everything that is thrown at them like a bull by the horns.”

Collectors have also been in London Colney Sainsbury’s and had a stall on St Albans market. They will be asking for donations in the Harpenden Sainsbury’s this Saturday (January 27).

Fundraising for Isla at St Albans market. Picture: Rick AustinFundraising for Isla at St Albans market. Picture: Rick Austin

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/solvingkidscancer/islaaustin.

Any extra money will go towards other expenses involved in Isla’s treatment.

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CountryPhile

A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

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