Hornchurch nine-year-old raises £1,000 for Saint Francis Hospice after losing both grandparents to cancer

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 January 2020

Henry O'Keefe with his grandparents, Maureen and Tony. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Henry O'Keefe with his grandparents, Maureen and Tony. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice


After losing both of his grandparents a nine-year-old boy from Hornchurch was determined to raise funds for the hospice that cared for them in their final days.

Henry with West Ham footballer Michail Antonio. Picture: Frances O'KeefeHenry with West Ham footballer Michail Antonio. Picture: Frances O'Keefe

Henry O'Keefe was just six when Maureen and Tony O'Keefe were diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

The news came as a shock to Henry and he said he wanted to know what was happening so he could make the most of the time he had left with his grandparents.

Last year Maureen became an inpatient at Saint Francis Hospice in Broxhill Road, Havering-atte-Bower. after a long battle with bowel cancer.

She was just 67 when she died, leaving Tony, her husband of 40 years.

Henry and his cousins would visit their nan, and play PlayStation games and watch films in the hospice's family hub.

He raised £1,000 for the hospice by organising bake sales and he won a citizenship award at his school, St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Hornchurch Road, for his charity work.

"I was quite surprised as I never win anything," said Henry.

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"Grandad gave me £10 for winning the award. He also wrote a letter to me, and I've put it in a frame for my bedroom wall. "Nanny and Grandad used to look after me and tell me stories.

"Being at the hospice made me feel happy, but I feel sorry for the patients."

Tony died from lung cancer four months after his wife.

Henry's mum, Frances O'Keefe, said: "Tony loved his home and wanted to be cared for there.

"The Hospice at Home nurses didn't just look after him, but the whole family as well.

"The incredible thing about the hospice's care is that we could be their family again, rather than their carers."

Henry's family treated him to a day out at West Ham's training ground where he was able to meet the players.

Proud mum Frances added: "Henry's not going to stop fundraising.

"I know that one hour of Hospice at Home care costs £54 and a day of care on the ward costs £606, so we want to make up for all the hours we've had."

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