A four-year-old cancer patient who became an internet sensation with her sweet rendition of Let It Go from her hospital bed has enjoyed the VIP treatment at a glittering London ceremony.
Little Eloise Singleton from Irvinestown, who was diagnosed a year ago with bone cancer, enjoyed an out-of-this-world experience at a special Stars and Space-themed party to salute the courage of all youngsters coping with the disease.
The tot was a guest of honour at the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards party, held in partnership with TK Maxx, at The Roof Gardens in Kensington, London. In what was a first outing for the family since Eloise took ill last May she flew to London with her brother Michael, eight, and her parents Claire, 40, a retail assistant and Ryan, 45, a software support manager.
The family met a stellar line-up of celebrities including Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins, former Pussy cat doll Kimberly Wyatt and TV presenter Matt Johnson.
And there were squeals of excitement from brave Eloise when she met her idol, CBeebies’ Mr Maker who was so taken by the local child that he gave her a VIP invitation and backstage pass to his next live show in Belfast.
Little Eloise was also delighted to receive a special Kids & Teens Star Awards medal during a presentation ceremony at the glittering event and afterwards put on a huge smile for the camera as she posed for pictures holding her award with Good Morning Britain’s Charlotte Hawkins.
The happy occasion came almost a year after life for the family changed suddenly with Eloise’s shock diagnosis.
The first indication that all was not well happened when she tripped at nursery and started to limp.
After a visit to her GP and X-rays, she had an MRI scan in Altnagelvin Area Hospital and a biopsy at Musgrave Park Hospital.
Two weeks later her parents Ryan and Claire were stunned to be told their little girl had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer in her left femur.
Eloise was diagnosed on June 26 last year, three days before her fourth birthday. Her parents went ahead and organised a small birthday party at home and the day after her birthday the tot was in hospital starting the first of six sessions of chemotherapy before surgery.
During chemo her lovely long blonde hair fell out and the treatment made her so ill she was hospitalised after each session for at least a week.
Mum Claire said: “She faced her hair loss with typical good humour.
“As she held each clump of her once long blonde hair she beamed a huge smile and said it must mean the medicine is working — then remarked that the clump of hair looked like a guinea pig.
“Each clump of hair that came out after that was greeted with, ‘Oh look, another guinea pig’.”
Eloise then faced surgery in Birmingham to remove the tumour and has been given a prosthetic femur.
“She has a lot of work to do to walk again,” adds Claire, “and she may need to have a hip replacement in a few years’ time.
“She also faces more surgery as she grows on the prosthetic femur but she is great.
“She has started number seven of eight chemos this week and hopefully this is it for us and we are near the end.”
It has been a tough year for the family and Claire says it is Eloise who has got them through with her determination and strength of character.
She says: “She has dealt with it better than any adult might. She is very strong and she has helped us through it.
“It is devastating and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. We have only got through it with the support of family.
“Eloise is very determined and very independent. She has never ever tried to seek attention even though she is so sick.
“She never feels sorry for herself and she has inspired us all.”
The awards were the second time this year that Eloise — who has started her seventh round of chemo — got to meet one of her heroes.
In February her face lit up when her favourite Frozen characters surprised her in her hospital room.
After getting a hug from snowman Olaf, Eloise then got the chance to sing with Elsa the film’s theme song, Let It Go. A video of the child singing along with Elsa became a huge hit on the internet where it has been viewed by over half a million people from all over the world.
The treat from local charity Angel Wishes NI came just after Eloise had spent a number of days in an isolation ward due to infections after major surgery.
The VIP trip to the Cancer Research party was also a perfect pick-me-up for the whole family before chemo recommenced.
The cosmic celebration saw 20 children from across the UK come together as special ambassadors to represent the 620 children who received Kids & Teens Star Awards from Cancer Research in 2014/15.
Eloise enjoyed an afternoon of galactic-inspired games including experiments with dry ice, slime making, rocket launching and sampling freeze-dried astronaut ice-cream.
But there was no doubt that the highlight of her day was meeting her idol Mr Maker.
Her mum Claire said: “Eloise and Michael absolutely loved every minute of the party.
“The whole thing was fantastic from the moment we went in. Meeting Mr Maker from CBeebies was just a joy for Eloise. She is a huge fan and at the end of the party he came looking for her and invited her to his show next time he is in Belfast and he also said he wants her to come backstage.
“She has been telling everyone all week about meeting Mr Maker.
“It was great for us as a family to be able to do something together for the first time in a year and it was an experience none of us will ever forget.”
The Star Awards are part of Cancer Research UK’s Kids & Teens fundraising campaign, which aims to accelerate research to find kinder treatments and cures for children, teens and young adults with cancer.
The charity has helped to transform the outlook for children with cancer in the UK.
Around three-quarters of under-15s with the disease are now cured compared to only a quarter in the late 1960s.
TK Maxx is the biggest corporate supporter of research into beating children’s cancers in the UK, where around 1,600 children are diagnosed with the disease each year — around 60 of them in Northern Ireland.
Jo Murphy, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for TK Maxx, said: “The Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards are an amazing way of honouring the incredible bravery of children who have faced a diagnosis of cancer and the support they receive from family and friends.
“Thousands more people are alive today thanks to Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s cancers, so TK Maxx is very proud to be supporting the awards and helping to raise vital awareness and funds.”