MOTHER’S Day will always be poignant for Nikki Bowdige.

Each day, she remembers her son, Tom, who died from an aggressive form of cancer.

Each day, she vows to carry on his legacy.

Now the charity set up by Nikki and her family to help teenagers coping with cancer has reached a major milestone - raising £1 million.

The Tom Bowdidge Foundation was set in honour of Tom who died aged just 19 from an aggressive form of cancer.

Before his death, he raised an astonishing £170,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Before he died, he told his mother, Nikki, to crack on.


She, and her husband, Richard, and daughter, Emma, have done so ever since.

Nikki said focusing on keeping Tom’s ambitions alive had given her something to keep going for and on what would have been their son’s 20th birthday they launched the charity.

“At first getting through each day was ticking another one off to when I could be with Tom.

“But having the charity to focus on and seeing what a difference it makes, has basically made something good out of something terrible.

“It doesn’t make it better but it means his legacy goes on,” she adds.

Nikki, who at first ran the charity part-time alongside working as a primary school teacher in her home village of West Bergholt, soon realised the charity needed her full-time attention.

The funds go towards research into teenage cancer, setting up age appropriate spaces in hospitals and supporting youngsters and their families in need of practical help and support.

This could be anything from contributions towards food or travel costs or buying equipment such as laptops so the young patients can continue with their studies.

Nikki said their joint tragedy and experience since has brought her and Richard even closer to Emma, who is now 28.

“We were always a close family before but going through something like that most certainly brings you even closer together.

“It didn’t take me long to realise I couldn’t just count down the days to being with Tom.

“I also had a daughter too and I did change my view to realising I need to be here as long as possible.

“Something Emma said to me one day really struck a chord with me too.

“She said ‘You will always be a mum, but I won’t ever be a sister again’ and as a result I am conscious of her grief and when she needs me.”

The charity once again held its Feather Ball recently, a major date in its fundraising calendar, which takes place each year close to Tom’s birthday.

It was launched on what would have been his 21st in 2014.

Emma, who is now head of English at Colchester County High School for Girls, says she knows Tom would be hugely proud of their mum.

“None of this would have been achieved without Mum’s unrelenting commitment to the charity and her innovative fundraising ideas.

“I know that she would do anything to have Tom back and her daily grief is unimaginable but somehow she finds this inner power to get up every morning, put a smile on her face and inspire all those around her.”

For more information on the Tom Bowdidge Foundation, go to

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