Isla Caton: West Ham Stadium lights up in memory of little girl who died from cancer

Close up of West Ham Isla campaign
The billboard campaign featuring Isla is for Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Credit: ITV News London

West Ham United’s stadium will be lit up this month in memory of seven-year-old Isla Caton, a Hammers fan who died from cancer earlier this year.

Isla suffered from a rare form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma for five years before she passed away in January.

The stadium is lit with billboards featuring pictures of Isla as part of a campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

Isla’s mum Nikki Caton says it is not spoken about enough: “With childhood cancer people tend not to want to look at it. But cancer affects everybody including children. And childhood cancer doesn’t get enough funding.”

It is hoped the billboard will raise awareness of childhood cancer.

She hopes the campaign will get people talking about childhood cancer and believes raising its profile is key in getting more research and funding for it.

“I can’t save every child unfortunately but what I can do is spread awareness. I think that by trying to use this little platform I’ve got that I’ve been given mainly by West Ham, I can’t keep this at the front of people’s minds” she says.

Isla Caton was seven years old when she died

West Ham were huge supporters during Isla’s illness with the club raising thousands for her treatment. She is remembered very fondly there.

One of the pictures on the billboards features Isla being carried onto the pitch as a mascot by then-captain Mark Noble in 2018. It’s a day stuck firmly in the minds of those at the club including Head of Supporter Services, Jake Heath.

“It was a very special day for everyone involved in it. It is such a powerful and moving image to see even now. It brings back nice memories from that day. I think most people remember her from her smile. She had this big smile and I think when you see photos like that, it really shows her bravery and the true little inspiration she was.”

Isla was a mascot for the club at a game in 2018.

The campaign is also helping Isla’s Mum Nikki by giving her a focus as she deals with her grief.

“I think it’s only just started to hit me really that she’s not coming back. I’m very high and low. But doing things like this – I’ve been working with West Ham since February on it – I feel like I’m keeping her legacy going. I’m keeping her name alive and for a great cause.”

“I’m a fighter – as Isla was. My inner strength is to carry on fighting for other children. So other families don’t have to go through what I’m going through now and what Isla went through – then her death wasn’t in vain.”

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