Four-year-old from famous Melton family faces tough cancer battle

A family are desperately trying to raise £250,000 for vital treatment for a four-year-old girl, who is the great-niece of a Melton man who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the Second World War.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 1:28 pm
Florentina Burton (4), who is suffering from a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer EMN-210726-130826001

Florentina Burton has been diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer of which sufferers are given just a 50 per cent chance of survival.

The little girl is currently in London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital but is already showing the fighting spirit exemplified by her great-uncle, Richard Burton, a celebrated VC recipient who passed away in 1993.

Florentina’s family have already raised nearly £50,000 towards their target and the latest fundraiser is on Saturday - a family fun day at Frisby-on-the-Wreake.

Florentina Burton with parents Kevin and Amelia EMN-210726-130816001

Sharon Burton, Florentina’s niece, told the Melton Times: “As a family we are trying to raise £250,000 to enable Florentina to access treatment in New York to give her the best chance of survival against this terrible disease.

“She has a long journey ahead and is currently in Great Ormond Street receiving the first eight cycles of chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumour prior to surgery, which we hope will happen towards the end of August.

“This is then followed by 40 to 60 days of high dose chemotherapy where she has to be kept in isolation and then seven months of biological immunotherapy.

“It is following this that we are hoping she will be able to access the bivalent vaccination, which is the only paediatric tumour vaccine in existence.

Richard Burton, a Melton man who was awarded the Victoria Cross for showing extreme bravery during the Second World War EMN-210726-131743001

“This would maximise the survival rate in the event of a relapse, which unfortunately with this cancer has a 60 per cent chance of happening.”

Among the activities scheduled at the fun day, on the field off Rotherby Lane, are a dog show and agility course, duck races, tug of war, stalls, pony rides, live music, bouncy castles, face painting, a barbecue and refreshments.

It all starts at noon, with entry costing £1 per person, with all proceeds from the day going to Florentina’s treatment.

Her uncle, James, aims to generate further funds in September when he will swim two miles in open water at the Swim Serpentine event in London’s Huyde Park, which is organised by the Children with Cancer UK charity.

Florentina’s parents, Kevin and Amelia, were devastated by their daughter’s diagnosis in May this year, just five days before her fourth birthday.

Kevin is a former captain of the Melton Mowbray Horseball team and it was their shared love of the sport which brought them together.

The couple are prepared for a long treatment programme for Florentina, with Amelia commenting: “We have had so much love and support around us from friends and family, it’s been overwhelming.

“It has given us the strength we need to battle on through and beat this.”

Learn more about Florentina’s story online at www.florentinas footsteps.com and go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Florentina-burton if you would like to pledge money towards her treatment.

***Richard Burton was born in Melton in January 1923 and grew up on Egerton Road, attending Brownlow School.

He followed his father into the building trade before joining up for service in the Second World War while still a teenager.

Richard, known to all as Dick, served in north Africa and more famously in Italy, where he took part in the Anzio beach landings in 1944.

He was awarded his Victoria Cross for showing extraodinary bravery at Monte Ceco where the Allied advance was being held up by strong German defences.

The citation for his VC describes Richard’s ‘magnificent gallantry and total disregard for his own safety in many hours of fierce fighting in mud and continuous rain were an inspiration to all his comrades’.

A plaque commemorates his wartime exploits on the corncross monument in Melton, at the intersection of Nottingham Street, High Street and Market Place.