Digby George Davidson touched the hearts of hundreds of people despite spending more than 500 days in hospital in his battle against leukaemia.
Half of his three year struggle saw him hospitalised for treatments varying from radiotherapy to chemotherapy, blood ‘dialysis’, a stem cell transplant and intensive drug treatments.
His funeral at St Wilfrid’s Church in Haywards Heath was crammed with those who loved him including staff from both the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton and the Royal Marsden in Sutton where he spent so much time.
Digby’s mum, Hermione, said: “We feel very loved and supported. We want to say thank you to both the schools and everyone who came to Digby’s funeral to share with us saying farewell.”
Digby was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in June 2010 when he was just 12 and at the end of Year 7 at Warden Park in Cuckfield.
He underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and was in remission until July 2011 when he suffered a relapse.
He had more intensive chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant in November 2011 which, although successful, lead to ‘Graft versus Host Disease’ when he tried to come off the immunosuppressant drugs.
Digby, of Gordon Road, Haywards Heath, then contracted a virus known as ‘CMV’ and, because of his lack of immunity, had to be treated intensely with kidney-toxic antiviral medication.
He never recovered and eventually died on July 6 at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton of respiratory failure.
Hermione said: “Digby had a faith; he told me he wasn’t afraid to die and he knew where he was going, which is quite amazing.”
Digby was on the ‘gifted and talented’ register at school and was an all rounder who loved graffiti.
At his family’s request, Ben McKay, a graffiti artist who he met at the Marsden, painted his coffin in graffiti lettering.
The words read: ‘DIG DEEP’, ‘DIG DEEPER’ and ‘DIGGERS’, the latter being the name he was known by at school.
Hermione said: “He was a very good boy and a clever boy but I think he liked the mischievousness of graffiti.”
She added: “Digby was very popular and a real BMXer and skate boarder; he was just a typical boy, full of life and full of beans.”
One of the last times some of his school friends saw him was when Digby attended a prize-giving at Warden Park last summer. Despite being weak, he managed to walk to the stage to thank the friends who had taken part in a 12-hour football marathon for him.
As well as £500 raised at his funeral for the Emily Ash Trust for families with children at the Marsden, Digby’s dad, Fergus, and uncle, Daniel Bastable, have just completed the Paris to London Centenary Cycle Challenge for the CLIC Sargent charity for children with cancer, raising more than £7,500 in Digby’s name.
Hermione said the couple and their other children, Florence, 13, and Hugo, 11, were coping with their loss.
She said: “To some extent, with such a long illness, you are coming to terms with it all the way.
“There have been so many times when he could have died, although the end is still a shock.”
Hermione was just 14 when she lost her elder brother, Richard Morris, who was killed in a motorcycle accident just before his 21st birthday.
Now, she says her family is grateful again for the community of friends who are helping them cope with another tragedy.
“We had so much support, with the other children, not just emotional but financial and even guerilla cooking when meals would just turn up on the doorstep for us, and we are so thankful for all that has been given to us.”