Thousands raised in memory of brave student Tom

Thomas Van Haaren died aged 23 followin a battle with rare cancer osteosarcoma.
Thomas Van Haaren died aged 23 followin a battle with rare cancer osteosarcoma.

The family of a talented young lawyer who died aged just 23 said they have been overwhelmed by the donations they have received for a cancer charity since he died.

Football-loving Thomas Van Haaren grew up in Kingsthorpe and was on his way to a promising career in law.

Despite being diagnosed with osteo-sarcoma in December 2012, the popular young man – once recruited as a Hollister model – managed to get a 2:1 grade in his law degree and was in the middle of attaining his legal practice certificate in Birmingham when he died on January 25.

His mother, Jane Atkinson, 57, of Sunnyside, Kingsthorpe, said having asked for donations to Cancer Research UK at the funeral, the family has already received close to £3,000 from family and friends.

Jane, who works at Travis Perkins, said: “Tom was an extremely popular young person with friends in lots of places.

“The response has been absolutely brilliant.

“The money has just sort of flowed in from everywhere.”

With a host of fund-raising events planned by Tom’s friends in the coming months, his mother believes the family could raise more than £5,000 by the end of summer.

A charity night in Tom’s memory is set to take place on Saturday, April 12, at Auntie Ruth’s bar in George Row.

Jane and other family and friends will be among those taking part in the Northampton Race for Life on Sunday, June 8.

And some of his pals will take on the gruelling ‘Tough Mudder’ 12-mile obstacle course in Kettering on Saturday, July 12.

“We will continue to do this,” said Jane. “It’s very close to my heart helping this charity.

“It is all well and good having the money to treat cancer, but it’s so important that we put the money into researching how to stop this.”

Osteosarcoma is a form of bone cancer which occurs mainly in the knees of younger people and affects 400 people each year in the UK.

Achieving a law degree was made even more remarkable by the fact Tom studied while undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

At one point the Tottenham Hotspur football fan needed major reconstructive surgery on a leg.

To donate to Cancer Research UK in Tom’s memory, visit