My name is Amber-Leigh. I joined the KMB Shipping team in 2019 as an apprentice and now a full-time member of the European team. Six months after I joined, we hosted a Macmillan Coffee morning in our building, with the KMB Bake Off competition judged by Blind Dave Heeley. As well as the flapjacks I made, my 14-year-old brother Alex baked his own cake for the event. Why? Because on the 12th of January 2017, after a series of blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). He was just 11 years old.

What followed was three and a half years of long hospital stays (including Christmas Days), intensive chemotherapy treatments with hair loss and all the other side effects that go with it, constant tests, including biopsies and lumbar punctures, scans, and blood transfusions…. it felt like it would never end. As a family, it was heart-breaking to see Alex go through this nightmare, we felt so helpless, but we had to stay positive and keep fighting. After all, our pain was nothing compared to what Alex was going through…

In September 2017, a week after Alex had his Hickman line taken out, he caught the RSV virus and had a fungal infection on his lungs which meant more time in hospital.

At this point, two and half years after being diagnosed, Alex was still fighting hard to get better, still regularly undergoing treatments. Yet rather than spend an evening playing computer games like any other typical teenager, Alex wanted to help raise money for others who were suffering. Shortly after he baked the cake, Alex was rushed to hospital for another two days with an infection.

When Kevin Jones, one of the KMB Directors, heard about my brother, he said he couldn’t sit back and do nothing, he wanted to do something to help us.

At the end of March last year, for Alex’s 15th birthday, we were due to visit Florida for the holiday of a lifetime, courtesy of Rays of Sunshine children’s charity. The KMB team wanted to make Alex’s birthday as special as possible, so came up with the idea to raise money to enable Alex to go swimming with the dolphins and spend the day at Discovery Cove on his birthday. With the help of friends, colleagues, and customers, they exceeded their target and were able to book him a dinner with the Avengers, his favourite characters.

Alex’s treatment finished on the 9th of May 2020, and he is finally in remission. Due to Covid, Alex’s trip to Florida was cancelled. Instead, we were granted a trip to Center Parcs this year. The money raised by KMB gave Alex the chance to book and experience some amazing activities, such as laser clay shooting and quad biking.

Even though he has now finished treatment and free of cancer, Alex is still having regular check-ups at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, with blood tests every 3 months, clinic appointments every 6 weeks currently and most recently an MRI scan to find out any long-term effects on his body. Since being off treatment he is currently suffering with Chemo detox (severe eczema) and pains in his legs. Alex will be arriving in a Riley 1.5 for his leaver’s prom coming up on the 12th August and is looking forward to starting college in September studying engineering and trying to lead the best and normal life he can.

My family and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated to help give Alex the trip of a lifetime. You didn’t just help Alex, you helped to heal our family after what has been a horrific few years. You gave us the chance to feel normal again, and just for a few days we were able to forget the horrors of the past and look forward to the future. We’d also like to thank Kevin Jones and the team at KMB. I could never have imagined that they would do something so amazing for us…

Thanks again

Amber-Leigh