September 30th, 2016

Brave Fin makes it back from seven-hour op to help smash teddy bear record

Updated: 10:14 am, May 07, 2015

THERE were emotional and jubilant scenes in Alvechurch on Sunday (May 3) when the Guinness World Record for the longest ever row of teddy bears was smashed.

The 15,534-strong line, which easily surpassed the previous record of 4,014, was the idea of brave village youngster Finlay Church.

Fin was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive malignant primary brain tumour which is rare in children – in June last year. After major surgery at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to remove the tumour he he underwent a series of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and clinical trials to stop it returning.

But on April 14, just a fortnight before the Party in the Park event where the record attempt was due to take place, a three-monthly scan revealed Fin’s tumour had returned.

He was taken up to Alder Hay Hospital in Liverpool which has an inter-operative MRI scanner. That was able to accurately locate the tumour and then he underwent a lengthy seven-hour operation on Thursday (April 30).

That saw 90 per cent of the tumour removed and a chemotherapy wafer was placed in the cavity in his head. That will slowly release waves to get rid of the remaining ten per cent of the growth.

And miraculously, to give a fairytale ending to the project – tenacious Fin made it back to Alvechurch from the north-west in time to lay the last teddy bear.

His mum Penny told The Standard: “We hadn’t told anyone we were coming back because we didn’t know if we would make it in time.

“He was so disappointed that he was not going to see the World Record being broken so for him to be there to complete the row with the final teddy was fantastic.”

She said that, since the record has been smashed, the family had received so many messages of goodwill from people, in person and through social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday’s success was the culmination of months of teddies being collected.

Drop off points included Alvechurch Library, the middle school, Crown Meadow First School, Cafe Moreso, Your Move in Rubery and Bear Headquarters – 85 Birmingham Road, Alvechurch.

Penny thanked everyone who had donated bears and helped with the attempt and those who stayed behind on Sunday to collect them all up after the world record had been confirmed.

They will now be distributed to other charities so they can go to help other youngsters.

“It’s all been so overwhelming – everyone has been brilliant,” added Penny.

Residents can still donate to the fund-raising campaign for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Fin had the majority of his treatment and the Brain Tumour Research charity.

Visit www.justgiving.com/teams/finlaysjourney or text btmr99 and the amount for Brain Tumour Research or bchh99 followed by the amount for the Children’s Hospital. Details are available at the www.operationteddybear.co.uk website.

Fin arrived in time to place the last teddy bear. s

The rows and rows of teddy bears which, by the end, totalled more than 15,000. Picture by Anthony Hill. s

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