Cancer could come back a third time for Northampton Saints mascot Harry unless he receives treatment abroad

A Northampton Saints mascot was just going about his daily life when things took a turn for the worst.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 4:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:03 pm
Dylan Hartley pictured with Harry Mallinder, Harry Banks, Marcus Smith and Danny Cipriani. They all gathered at the north London studio of celebrity photographer Rankin. Credit: Rankin.

In 2014, 10-year-old Harry Banks' family were given the devastating news that Harry had stage four neuroblastoma - a very rare and aggressive cancer - after he complained of a headache while he was swimming.

After dashing Harry to the hospital, his mum Nina was told only two hours later the cause of her son's pain was a brain tumour. After bravely enduring two years of intensive chemotherapy, Harry spent two and a half years in remission.

But in November last year, the family were told that Harry had a neuroblastoma relapse and he had to have an emergency operation to remove a tumour from his brain.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Rugby-mad Harry from Woburn Sands is urging the people of Northampton, especially Saints supporters, to dig deep and help him get his treatment abroad.

Harry still has a chance to fight the odds with groundbreaking, private treatment, at the Memorial Sloane Kettering cancer centres in either Barcelona or New York but the operation will cost his family £500,000, plus travel expenses.

Now just weeks after undergoing brain surgery to remove a two-inch tumour, doctors have warned his parents Nina and Russell, that without pioneering treatment in New York orBarcelona, Harry will be hit by neuroblastoma for a third time and the rugby-mad youngster’s chances of survival will be low.

Harry’s parents face a race against time to raise £500,000 before mid-March and to ensure they meet their target some of the biggest names in rugby have come forward to add theirweight.

Former rugby international Will Greenwood, Marcus Smith, Danny Cipriani, Harry Mallinder and Dylan Hartley all gathered at the north London studio of celebrity photographerRankin, along with Harry’s brother Oscar, 12 and mother Nina, to help raise the profile of the fundraising campaign.

Greenwood, 46, said he did not think twice when he received a phone call asking for his support and revealed Harry’s plight struck a personal chord.

He said: "I’m involved in a charity called Borne [which raises money for research into premature birth] and lost my little boy Freddie in 2002 and the brutal fact is that no parent should have to bury their child.

"So if there is any chance I can help then, of course, I will."

Harry, who plays for his local rugby club Ampthill in Bedfordshire, was first diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in 2014 at the age of six.

One hundred children each year are diagnosed with the condition, which currently has no cure.

Harry will be a mascot for Northampton Saints game this weekend against Leicester Tigers and is collecting donations pitch-side.

Mum Nina Banks added: "We are very lucky to have such supportive family, friends and help from the rugby community and Rankin, but to achieve this target we need everyone to get behind the fundraising and make a difference.

"I will never allow myself to lose hope.

"Harry is a strong, very stubborn little boy, and we will fight this."