THE parents of an inspirational teenager are to donate £50,000 to an appeal for a cancer centre.

Nikki and Richard Bowdidge are to present the money to the Cancer Centre Campaign on behalf of the Tom Bowdidge Foundation, which was set up in memory of their son, Tom.

The money will be used for a two-chair chemotherapy bay for teenage cancer patients in the Cancer and Wellbeing Centre.

Nikki said: “The foundation is delighted to work with Colchester Hospital and to continue our investment there in teenage and young adult cancer facilities.

“Each day in the UK, about seven young people aged 13 to 24 are diagnosed with cancer. My son was one of them so I know only too well how their treatment can be complicated and intense.

“Many teenagers and young people are facing rare and aggressive cancers with long-term side effects. I watched my son and his fellow patients face unique social, emotional and physical difficulties.

“Their education was interrupted. They felt isolated from friends as they no longer felt they had anything in common and the latter did not know how to cope with their friend’s diagnosis. Their families were left struggling to cope.

“These complex issues mean they need specialist care and support and an environment tailored to their needs.

“However, teenagers and young adults with cancer often get lost in a health care system that simply doesn’t recognise their physical and emotional needs.

“Therefore, we wanted to ensure there is an age-appropriate space provided in the Colchester Cancer Centre for young people with cancer.”

The foundation was set up to support teenagers and young adults with cancer following Tom’s death. He died aged 19 in 2013 from a desmoplastic small round cell tumour and extensive peritoneal disease.

In the 13 months between his diagnosis and death, Tom, who was at Colchester Royal Grammar School, helped to raise £178,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

In the three years since the foundation was founded, it has raised more than £600,000.

Caroline Bates, head of fundraising for Colchester Hospitals Charity, which is leading the Gazette-backed appeal for a new £3.25 million cancer centre, said: “We are humbled by this amazingly generous donation especially when you consider the foundation has already invested £25,000 in facilities for teenagers and young adults with cancer.

“In our plans for the centre, we include facilities within its Chemotherapy Day Unit that will enable us to treat teenage patients as teenagers first and not as adult cancer patients.”