Henry Allen is beautiful. His smile makes you want to grin back in return – you just can’t help it. There’s a heap of fun-loving cheekiness behind those eyes, along with a kind heart and a deep love of superheroes. Seeing photos of Henry in my social media feed brightens my day every time, and it’s just the same whenever I meet his mum, Dawn – she’s just that sort of wonderful person.
The tragedy is that Henry will forever be four. He was the much-longed-for, much-loved baby born to Dawn and Mark Allen, but at only two years old, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk, MYCN Amplified Neuroblastoma – a rare but aggressive form of cancer.
There followed two years of punishing treatments and surgeries to save his life, but he passed away in October 2013. This remarkable and kind little boy’s wish as he passed was that his Mum and Dad should now help others – gravely ill children just like him, and their devastated families, to live with their diagnoses, get through the unforgiving treatments and rollercoaster of emotions – hopefully to come out the other side well and recovered, or otherwise, to make memories they will cherish forever in their grief, just as Dawn and Mark did.
Birth of a Legacy
And so The Henry Allen Trust began. Throughout the year, Dawn, Mark and their army of Henry’s Helpers work so hard to raise funds to support children and their families with a cancer diagnosis in the Milton Keynes area. From advice and overnight care packs for emergency stays, to toys in hospitals, and treats to create those special memories – this is the magic they bring about on Henry’s behalf.
I’m always in awe of Dawn. She’s so positive, so enthusiastic and always has a huge hug when I meet her, even though she carries this ocean of pain inside. As well as the relentless fundraising and perpetual support for families at the toughest time of their lives, she is also an advocate for bereaved families. Knowing that the pain never truly becomes easier, and the hole in your heart and soul never closes, she works closely with child bereavement charities to support THAT’s families too.
THAT’s fundraising is as tireless as their support to families, and there is always an appeal running or a special event coming up. There’s are the Christmas Stocking and Easter Egg appeals, which calls for toys and treats for children spending those magical days in hospital.
Dawn, Mark and THAT have helped so many families, and been at the heart of so many Milton Keynes events, that they have become a local institution. Dawn was so excited to be chosen charity for collections at this year’s MK Theatre pantomime, and Diversity – the panto’s stars – asked to meet them all. Even more exciting, this summer Dawn and Mark were invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, to recognise the huge contributions they’ve made to the local community.
THAT Family Fun Day 2022
Alongside the regular appeals and campaigns, there are some really special days every year in the calendar: THAT’s flagship fundraising events, and ones that Henry would have loved too. In November, it’s the Firework Spectacular, when the skies above Bletchley are lit up with a thousand sparks. In the summer, it’s time for THAT Henry’s Happiness Family Fun Day – and it’s just around the corner right now…
It’s been running for 8 years, and in 2022 it’s bigger than ever. On Sunday 7 August at Emerson Valley Sports Pavilion, Henry’s Happiness Family Fun Day is not to be missed: inflatables, animal encounters, live entertainment, refreshments, special guests, demonstrations and a fun dog show – there will be so much to see and do. FREE entry – and all profits go to THAT, of course.
And after this, the next date to look forward to is THAT Black and Gold Ball in September, planned and named in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness month. It’s a night of fun and glamour, and like all THAT’s events, profits go to do the work that Henry wished for.
Dawn often speaks on her social media about the pain of grief, and how so many people are nervous of speaking about Henry in case it upsets those who loved him. That’s the last thing they want, she says.
“All you want is for people not to forget your child, because you don’t; he’s still my baby, and I’m still a mummy.”
And she’s the best. Her little boy inspires her every day, even the worst ones, to keep going. His unjustly short time here, and the legacy he left, has changed the lives of so many others through his parents. I can only imagine how proud and excited he’d be at the thought of The Henry Allen Trust Fun Day…how happy it makes those who can enjoy it, and how all the money raised will help children just like him.
To find out more about THAT, and the Henry Allen Trust Fun Day 2022, visit the website: https://thehenryallentrust.org.uk/