Meet Santa’s little helper

Brandon Ballance - Santa's Litthe Helper.
Brandon Ballance - Santa's Litthe Helper.

A PLUCKY boy who has bravely battled a deadly disease for most of his life became Santa’s little helper for the day when he delivered Christmas presents to other poorly youngsters.

Dressed as an elf, brain tumour patient Brandon Ballance, from Amble, handed out a heap of goodies to little ones on the children’s cancer ward and day unit at Newcastle’s RVI yesterday.

The nine-year-old’s goodwill gesture was intended to put ‘lots of smiles’ on the faces of ill bairns.

His kind-hearted donation came courtesy of his mum Sarah Nicholson, who launched a campaign a few weeks ago to collect toys and sweets for the cause – having seen Brandon live with an inoperable brain tumour since he was diagnosed at just two.

She is hoping to turn it into an annual treat for youngsters at the hospital – where Brandon has spent much time during his tumour fight – by transforming the appeal into a registered charity, called Brandon’s Little Helpers.

The 33-year-old mum-of-two, from Links Avenue, said: “I set up a toy/sweet hamper appeal for the ward and day unit at the hospital, appealing for gifts for the brave youngsters who are battling this killer disease.

“Unfortunately, lots of kids have to spend their Christmas in hospital. Days can be very long in hospital so we are on a mission to create lots of smiles for these brave youngsters.

“Brandon has been battling this deadly disease for seven years now and still continues to fight strong. He has spent most of his short life in hospital undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and last Christmas underwent a six-week intense course of radiotherapy to stabilise an inoperable cancerous growth on his brain stem.

“We have seen a lot of poorly children over the years and unfortunately some don’t make it so we really wanted to make this massive as it’s the least they deserve in very difficult times.”

Sarah, who also has a four-year-old daughter Sienna, added: “We are in the process of making this a registered charity called Brandon’s Little Helpers, which will enable us to create more and more smiles every year.”

As part of the appeal, hampers packed with chocolates, wine and other gifts were also created for the staff nurses at the hospital, to ‘make them feel special too’.

Sarah said: “They work around the clock to give 24-hour care to these fantastic kids and have kindly looked after my own poorly boy for many years and I think they deserve a little something back.”

On top of this, a special gift bag has been created for Shilbottle lad Dan Phillips, whose younger brother Matthew died earlier this year at the age of five, having battled a brain tumour for four years.

“We wanted him to know that everyone is so proud of him,” added Sarah, who thanked everyone who has donated to the cause, which also included buying domino cards and raising money to buy games consoles for the ward.

If anyone wants to donate to the cause for future years or wants to find out more, email Sarah on