In an emotional and inspirational – and momentarily tearful- speech, former Oxted School student Vicki Woodall told the school leavers of 2018 the story of her young son George’s battle with cancer.
And she also revealed the strength and determination needed – a hard hitting message for the leavers to take into the next phase of their lives – to launch her George And The Giant Pledge campaign, aimed at raising £1m to help beat childhood cancer.
The Sixth Formers of her old school had brought in thousands for the Giant Pledge earlier this year with their RAG Week activities and Vicki revealed that nearly £800,000 has been raised so far.
It was on January 3 2017 that Vicki and her husband James Woodall received the news that’s every parent’s worst nightmare. They were told by doctors at The Royal Marsden Hospital that a lump they’d found on their then four-year-old son’s back was in fact cancer, a rare PNET soft tissue Ewing’s Sarcoma.
From being a perfectly healthy and happy little boy George and the Woodall family’s lives changed overnight. Over the course of 2017 he endured 14 rounds of chemo, had part of his spine removed during 10 hours of complex surgery and received proton therapy in the USA thanks to the NHS.
Vicki and Woody are trying to make the best of their bad situation and, despite navigating George’s difficult cancer journey, supporting his older brother and trying to maintain some semblance of family life, they’ve pledged to raise £1,000,000 to help beat childhood cancer.
“Seeing all those young children with no hair and tubes coming out of them on our first visit to The Royal Marsden was truly heartbreaking” said Vicki. “Yet the thing that struck us the most was how many of those kids had a smile on their face. It was then that we decided to set up ‘George and the Giant Pledge’, because no child should ever have to have their childhood taken from them in this terrible way.”
Donations made to the Pledge go to the children’s team at The Royal Marsden Hospital to help fund much needed research into children’s cancer as well as help The Royal Marsden team continue the outstanding work they’re doing for children and families affected by cancer.
Vicki’s powerhouse speech and her words aimed at supporting the young leavers to overcome
obstacles in their futures were greeted by thunderous applause by the former pupils of Oxted School, their parents and the school staff.
Photos by kevin black show Vicki with Oxted School headteacher Nicola Euridge and Teddy Stevenson – Head Boy; Bethany Philips – Head Girl; Elliott Myers – Deputy Head Boy; Annie Stone – Deputy Head Girl; and Vicki delivering her talk