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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Jak’s memory will always be a force for good

This news post is over 8 years old

Jak Trueman's mum Allison is determined to create a fundraising legacy in memory of her brave son

When Allison Barr’s son Jak died of a rare form of cancer last February, the last thing she wanted was for his passing to be in vain.

Across the UK the story of Jak Trueman had already captured the nation’s affection after the 15 year old’s plight went viral on social media.

Diagnosed with gammadelta T-cell lymphoma, a very rare cancer, Jak went on a fundraising mission which rapidly enlisted the support of the public as well as sports personalities and celebrities alike.

In a short space of time, Jak raised thousands for charity before succumbing to the illness.

Now mum Allison (pictured below on left) wants to build on the Mid Calder youngster’s efforts and create a lasting memorial in the form of a new charity.

Team Jak Foundation has already reached £100,000 but Allison firmly believes a target of £3 million can be raised.

“People from all over the world gave support to Jak and still message us regularly. We thought we could still reach out to people in Jak’s memory to help young people with cancer enjoy a dignified life,” said the part-time primary school music teacher.

Jak passed away 10 days after doctors broke the news that his cancer was untreatable.

His bravery in the face of the diagnosis captured the thoughts of the nation with Jak's story going global after he fulfilled his only wish to take his girlfriend Hannah Boyd to a hastily rearranged high school prom.

His story remains a poignant reminder of the importance behind charity giving – that the tireless efforts by the few can capture the hearts of millions.

Cash raised will go towards an ambitious new project called Jak’s Den - a special centre where older children hit by cancer can relax, receive support and enjoy comfortable surroundings designed to cope with their special needs.

So far donations for the fund have come from all walks of life from children selling loom bands or donating their pocket money, to four-figure sums from John Lewis.

Teams from IBM and RBS also cycled 88km around Arran and Allison herself took part in this year's Kiltwalk (above) alongside others to raise thousands for the venutre.

“It is absolutely brilliant. Everyone involved is completely overwhelmed, the response has been incredible,” said Allison.

“We have had some fantastic donations from large organisations which have really helped. And there have been so many people who have done so much, I just want to thank them all.”

Jak’s personal vision was for a place for young people with cancer to gather to listen to music, relax and to chat. At its heart would be a sterile cafe providing food and drinks suitable for their needs.

Other initiatives to help families affected by childhood cancer are also being planned.

Hearts goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who became friends with the youngster, is to help head the Team Jak charity.

And the charity also plans to launch a Team Jak sibling support group to help teenage brothers and sisters of desperately ill children.

Eventually Allison hopes to create a similar network for parents. “There’s support for younger children but nothing for teenagers,” she said.

All during September, Team Jak Foundation is planning a series of events which it hopes will push its funds across the £110,000 barrier in time to celebrate Jak’s birthday.

“We are asking people on Facebook to join in during September and carry out a random act of kindness or mention something they’re grateful for, donate £1 and then tag 16 people to encourage them to do the same,” said Allison.

People want to support a cause that is close to their hearts, says Allison. The Scottish public, she believes, will continue to give generously because the cause is something with which they readily identify.

“People have been very generous and there is always the concern that we are pushing the boat out a bit too far,” she said. “But feedback has been hugely positive.

“We’re keeping donors engaged by being a bit creative in how we raise cash and we’ll continue to do so.

"That’s the plan. And, most importantly, it’s what my beautiful Jak would have wanted.”