Sleaford dad’s goal to grant wishes after losing teen daughter to cancer

The father of a Sleaford teenager who tragically lost her life to cancer at the age of 13 has told their story in a new video supporting the charity that brightened her final few months.

Hannah Cross, of Sleaford, on her visit to the Coronation Street set before she died of cancer. Photo: Make-A-Wish UK
Hannah Cross, of Sleaford, on her visit to the Coronation Street set before she died of cancer. Photo: Make-A-Wish UK

Hannah Cross died from a rare form of soft tissue cancer, Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, in September 2014, less than a year after her wish to meet the Coronation Street cast was granted by Male A Wish UK.

Hannah’s wish to meet the Coronation Street cast was granted in November 2013, creating special memories for the family to treasure.

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Her dad Simon, 52, is urging the public to donate to Make-A-Wish UK ahead of World Wish Day (April 29) to help grant life-changing wishes and help other families form happy memories.

The charity wants to raise at least £87,500, which will help revive childhoods lost to critical illness for 35 children like Hannah across the East Midlands, who are still currently waiting for their wish to come true.

Simon’s daughter Hannah was 11 years old when she was diagnosed in the summer of 2012, just as she was moving up from primary to secondary school. Simon, who had volunteered for Make-A-Wish UK since turning 40 in 2009, could never have imagined that his own child would one day be choosing a wish.

“It changed our lives completely,’ said Simon. “You never think it will happen to you – to your child. In an instant, our world was turned upside down.”

During the first gruelling six months of chemotherapy, Hannah would watch Coronation Street with her older brother Callum. “It was her escape,” explained Simon. “She got to know the characters, so when it came to choosing a wish – that was what she wanted. To meet the cast. It was something we could all do together as well, and she wanted that. She was always thinking of others.”

Hannah travelled with family to Manchester in a limousine to meet the Corrie cast at Granada Studios.

“The impact of a wish on a critically ill child is difficult to put into words,” remembers Simon. “Just to see Hannah smiling – to be able to forget about hospitals, the worry of x-rays and scans... To have that escapism and release, for just a short time. It meant the world to us.”

Hannah and her brother were able to appear as extras during their visit to the set, but sadly the family were given the tragic news that Hannah’s cancer had returned on the same day the episode aired. Despite further treatment, Hannah passed away later that year.

“To see your child go through a critical illness is very difficult,’ said Simon. “They go through such dark times. To have a wish – the anticipation of the wish, the wish itself and then the memories after – is something that helps light up the darkness.”

Simon continues to volunteer and fundraise for Make-A-Wish UK, alongside his full-time role as a Health & Safety Inspector in Boston.

He said: “I can’t change what’s happened, but I can help make a difference to other critically ill children and their families. To be able to see the face of a child when they get their wish is truly magical.”

Each wish is estimated to cost around £2,500 on average to deliver. People can donate at www.make-a-wish.org.uk/east-mids.