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Courageous Sonny urges Wales to give up clothes for life-saving research

Six-year-old Sonny Jones from Dinas Powys, who is being treated for leukaemia, is encouraging people across Wales to Give Up Clothes for Good to help more children survive cancer.

A “funny and cheeky” six-year-old with leukaemia is urging people across Wales to clear out their wardrobes to help more children and young people survive the disease.

This September – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – Sonny Jones is backing TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, in support of Cancer Research UK.

Sonny, who received a star award from the charity for his bravery earlier this year, is encouraging the public to donate any pre-loved quality fashion and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store.

Sonny, from Dinas Powys, is one of around 75 youngsters in Wales who are diagnosed with cancer every year*. His family understand all too well the importance of new discoveries and breakthroughs after Sonny was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in 2019.

His parents Ian and Jess first noticed something wasn’t right a few weeks before his diagnosis. They initially thought Sonny’s symptoms were as a result of his haemophilia – a rare condition he was born with that affects the blood’s ability to clot.

Ian said: “He complained his legs were hurting and wouldn’t come down the stairs as it was too painful for him.

“He also had a terrible nosebleed and we thought that was because of his haemophilia. He had blood tests and that’s when we found out he had leukaemia.

“It was like a whirlwind as it all happened so quickly. It felt like our world had collapsed. When you hear the ‘L’ word, you think it’s a death sentence.”

The news came a day before Sonny’s little sister, Lainey, turned one.

“As Sonny was in hospital receiving his first round of chemo, the staff decorated his room for his sister’s birthday,” said Ian. “We were made to feel so welcome and the nurses really did go out of their way to make the experience as comfortable as possible.”

And Ian, who is a stand-up comedian, found his work particularly challenging during his treatment.

He said: “The weird thing was having to put on my showbiz face in front of thousands of people when I was really struggling with everything that was going on with Sonny. It was quite surreal.”

Sonny is now at the maintenance stage of his treatment which includes daily chemotherapy and steroid treatment. He also has regular lumbar punctures and bone marrow tests.

Ian said: “Since his diagnosis, Sonny has faced all his treatment with a smile on his face. He returned to school and continued to work extremely hard to catch up after missing a whole school year. He continues to be a brave, strong and extremely positive little man.”

And Sonny’s vibrant personality keeps the family going.

Ian said: “Sonny is cheeky and very funny. He is a ‘mini me’ and loves to make people laugh. He loves his computers and is a bit of a gamer. He is also very sensitive and loves a cuddle.

“He is also quite nonchalant and cool. He took part in three races on his sports day and didn’t tell us or make a big deal but that was a huge moment for us as his legs are quite weak.

“As a family we are extremely proud of the way in which he continues to fight despite all the challenges in his way.”

When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could raise up to £25 to help fund research into children’s and young people’s cancers.

Ian said: “It’s thanks to research that more children are surviving the disease today. That’s why raising money for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is so vital.

“Sonny and I will be having a good clear out at home to find clothes and things to donate and we hope our experience will inspire others across Wales to do the same. Their unwanted items really could save lives.”

More children are surviving cancer than ever before, thanks in large part to the work of Cancer Research UK.

Ruth Amies, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People in the Wales, said: “We’re grateful to the Sonny and his family for helping to raise awareness. Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects survivors often experience. So, it needs more research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good help to fund.

“We want to help ensure more people under the age of 25 in Wales, and across the UK, survive cancer with a good quality of life. That’s why we hope as many people as possible will show their support and donate any quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store.”

TK Maxx is the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s research into children’s and young people’s cancers. Since 2004, the retailer has raised over £37 million to help improve survival and reduce long-term side effects for under 25s.

Speaking on behalf of TK Maxx, Jo Murphy, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at TJX Europe, said: “We are incredibly grateful to our customers across Wales for helping us to transform the items they no longer need into funds for life-saving research. Not only are they helping more children and young people survive cancer, they’re also reducing their environmental impact by giving their pre-loved items another lease of life.”

Give Up Clothes for Good is one of the UK’s longest running clothes collections. People can donate at any TK Maxx store, all year round, including Culver House Cross and St David’s Centre, Cardiff.

Supporters can also help by wearing a gold ribbon badge – the awareness symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – available from Cancer Research UK shops and selected TK Maxx stores during September.