A BRAVE schoolboy with a brain tumour is leading a call for more funds for vital research.

James Copping was diagnosed with a pilocytic astrocytoma when he was just three-years-old.

James, who is now seven, and his family are backing the Brain Tumour Charity’s Christmas appeal which aims to raise vital funds for three key research projects.

James’ mum Natalie, of Kelvedon, said: “I remember my husband saying ‘If I could take all his pain, I would’.

“The Brain Tumour Charity was a constant source of information and support and I don’t know what we would have done without them.”

James and his family have attended several of the charity’s annual October Twilight Walks and family days, where others going through similar experiences can enjoy activity days away from their normal routine.

Natalie said: “The charity connected us with other families going through the same ordeal, which was a tremendous boost in dark times.

“Meeting other children with brain tumours – messing around, playing, laughing – was a blessing for James.

“It helped him feel more normal again and so much less isolated.”

The tell tale signs emerged when James suddenly screamed out in agonising pain when he was three.

He would tell his mum his head hurt and would cry.

A few weeks later the headaches reoccurred and his parents noticed he was leaning his head to one side.

The toddler began having trouble with his balance and his nursery staff started noticing the slanted head and headache.

James was referred to Colchester Hospital, where his tumour was diagnosed.

Despite an initially grim diagnosis, surgeons expertly removed 100 per cent of the tumour and tests revealed it to be benign.

However, he was diagnosed with a second brain tumour when he was five.

The family travel to Liverpool twice a year for monitoring of the slow growing tumour. It will not spread to another part of his brain, but there were concerns it should not have returned.

The charity’s Christmas appeal focuses on three key research projects which will change the quality of life for those affected.

Natalie said: “All the projects hold huge potential for people desperately waiting for something that could lengthen or improve their lives.

“Scientists are excited, More funding will give their crucial work a chance to continue and help so many others like James.”

The projects are:

- the Signal project involves researchers making new models which behave in the same way as the slow-growing childhood tumours.

These models can then be used to accurately test and accelerate new treatments.

- the PNET5 trial will involve every child in the UK with a medulloblastoma getting their tumour tested, so they get tailored treatment.

- the Nanobiopsy project, if successful, will open up new ways to research the biology of all brain tumours to develop better treatments.