Celebrities rally round schoolboy Thomas as he supports St Catherine’s in honour of his dad
David Beckham, Simon Cowell, and Andy Murray are just some of the celebrities who are contributing to a youngster’s determined efforts to raise vital funds for St Catherine’s Hospice.
Eight-year-old Thomas Sibley, from Croston, came up with an innovative idea to support the charity which cared for his beloved dad – and the incredible response has taken even him by surprise!
He’s written dozens of handwritten letters to TV studios, celebrity management agencies and more to request autographs which he plans to auction for St Catherine’s, after his dad Steven was cared for by the charity’s Clinical Nurse Specialists at home, and spent his final days on the hospice’s inpatient unit in December.
Thomas was surprised to receive not only autographs, but signed memorabilia from collectors as well, after posting an open letter on social media.
He has now collected more than 50 items, including a cap signed by tennis star Andy Murray, a David Beckham signed football shirt, and photos with the autographs of singers Olly Murs and Amy Winehouse. The Britain’s Got Talent judges including Simon Cowell, along with presenters Ant and Dec have also sent autographs, and Thomas has received a signed photo of England’s football captain Harry Kane from a collector, a shirt from the EF cycling team, a signed boxing glove, and autographs from Olympic swimmer Adam Peatty, Prime Minister Theresa May, and Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
Thomas, who initially aimed to raise £50 but has now set a target of £2,000 following the amazing feedback to his letters, said: “It’s gone so much bigger than I thought it would. Collectors are donating things which belong to them, so that really means a lot, and it’s nice to hear back from the celebrities or their managers too, who have written back to me.”
Sir Andy Murray penned a personal letter to Thomas, which said: “Hi Thomas, sorry to hear that you lost your dad. Here is a signed cap which I hope helps raise some money for St Catherine’s Hospice. It’s great to hear you like playing tennis. Keep up the good work!”
Steven was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2017 and started receiving support from St Catherine’s soon after. He died at the hospice on December 23, aged 40.
Thomas, a pupil at Trinity and St Michael’s Primary School, said: “I think my daddy would be proud of what I’m doing for the hospice.”
His mum Julie said: “So many items have been coming in – it’s all gone a bit bonkers! We’ve been getting really nice letters from people as well, and I think it’s a really positive thing for Thomas to do for himself and St Catherine’s.
“He’s always enjoyed writing letters, so the idea came from there really – he even wrote to Prince Charles once inviting him round for tea! Thomas is sending ‘thank you’ letters to everyone who has supported him so far, and his school has also been amazing.
“The initial idea was to auction off the items at school, but that was when he thought he would only get a handful. Now the school is thinking about setting up a website for people to bid for them.”
Mum-of-three Julie added: “This fundraising campaign has given Thomas a real sense of purpose and he is starting to smile again. Hopefully the auction will raise lots of money and help other families in similar situations to ours.”
Hayley Jackson, community engagement officer at St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “It was an absolute privilege to meet Thomas when he visited the hospice to tell us all about his fundraising – what a super star!
“I love his idea and the response has been fantastic – what a wonderful way to raise awareness of St Catherine’s far and wide, as well as helping us to raise vital funds. I’d like to say a special ‘thank you’ to Thomas for all of his hard work, which will help us be there for more local families like his now and in the future.
“We’re excited to see how the auction goes, and look forward to seeing Thomas again – he’s a hospice hero!”
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