Whitehaven firefighters enter Soapbox challenge in aid of colleague's daughter with brain tumour

Five firefighters are fundraising for a young girl with a brain tumour by taking part in a world-famous race in London.

Kyle Rotherham and four colleagues from Whitehaven White Watch will be taking part in the hugely popular Red Bull Soapbox Challenge in London next month (July).

It's all to raise money for the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle where Kyle’s 11-year-old daughter Tilly Mae is undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.

Kyle and partner Steff, who live in Workington, decided to raise money for the unit having seen first-hand the amazing care they give to children.

She will remain under their care for another 10 years after they removed as much of the tumour as they safely could.

Tilly and her dad Kyle in hospital in Newcastle in August 2021 Credit: Kyle Rotheram

Kyle Rotherham said, "in August 2021 our 11 year old daughter Tilly Mae was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer with a tumour on the brain.

"She received treatment at the Royal Victoria Infirmary where they removed as much of the tumour as they safely could. The care she received was exceptional and the hospital was very child friendly.

"Seeing so many young children receiving treatment and care was a harrowing experience but you could also see the hope through all the anguish. Brave children who still laugh and joke despite what they are going through and the staff who work so hard to ensure they feel comfortable and have the best care whilst at the hospital and further support upon returning to their homes."

For Kyle and his family, it's all about providing items that can help make the experience a little easier: "Things like getting toys, clown doctors, the little touches that are a bit more bearable for the children there. Obviously we've had our own experiences with Tilly, our daughter, and when we were there it was a harrowing experience. Though we wanted to do something to give a little bit back to a hospital that has so much to us and other children."

Tilly loves watching the soap box race and playing Fortnite, so the kart is inspired by the popular video game. And many local businesses have contributed to the making of it - all for free.

"I hope it will help so it's nice to see that when you're in hospital," says 11 year old Tilly. "Like having the jokes and things. I think he's done a really good job on it, and he's tried really hard and everything."

No matter whether they crash spectacularly or make it to the end, it's all about raising as much money and having as much fun - as possible.

For Rachael, another firefighter, who will be in the back of the soapbox, with father Kyle in the front, it's all about having a good time down there.

"The gun is squirt the audience as we go along. We're going to fill it with water, we're not allowed to fill it with vodka! And squirt the audience as we go down.

"I hope we win but also crash at the end so we make it on tele!"