Thousands of pounds have been raised to help a north-east family create some magical memories with their five-year-old son following a shock cancer diagnosis.
Little Leo Middleton fell ill at the end of November and it took doctors less than a day to tell his parents, Barry and Rebecca Middleton, that he had a fast-growing brain tumour, and only months to live.
Now making plans for their final Christmas with Leo, the family have been “overwhelmed” by the generosity of north-east residents who have donated more than £18,000 to help them make some magical memories during his remaining time.
The Mintlaw Primary School pupil, who has an older brother and two sisters, was taken to hospital in Peterhead on Thursday, November 26, after “taking a funny turn” during lessons.
Less than 24 hours later the family received the “devastating news” that he had a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma – a fast-growing brain tumor.
Medics told his loved ones that he now has a life expectancy of eight months.
Leo and his family will now spend the next four to six weeks in Edinburgh while he receives radiotherapy treatment.
His aunt, Sarah Sim, said the whole family felt “a mixture of shock and disbelief” upon hearing the news.
She said: “We couldn’t believe it at first.
“You hear about things like this on TV, or happening to someone else, but you never imagine it happening to you.
“It’s a feeling we’ve never had before in our lives.”
The youngster was described by his aunt as being “such a special boy”.
Miss Sim said: “He’s so funny, he’s such a happy little boy who comes out with the funniest one liners and is always cracking jokes.
“He’s so loved by his classmates and teachers, in a room full of people he just shines. He’s five-years-old but he’s baby Leo to all of us.”
A fundraising page was created to support the family and in less than 24 hours the donations exceed £6,000.
The tally now stands at more than £18,000, with about 950 people backing the cause.
Miss Sim said: “The money raised will help give Leo as many happy memories as possible, and take the financial burden off his parents so they can spend as much time as possible with him.
“At the moment it’s still raw but we’ll decide all the things we want to do with him. One thing his parents would like to do is take him to Disneyland with his brother and sisters.
“We’re so grateful for all the kindness and it means so much to the whole family.
“But at the same time, we wish we didn’t have to go through all this.”
Over the weekend, local football side Mintlaw Boys Club, who Leo’s older brother Caiden plays for, highlighted the fundraising drive.
A message on the club’s Facebook page said: “Leo has been extremely brave and his love of football has helped in these difficult times for the family.
“Mintlaw Boys Club would like to offer our love and support to the Middleton family and let you all know we are thinking of you all during these difficult times.”
Donations can be made online by searching “weʼre raising £20,000 to our baby Leo” on www.justgiving.com