Tributes for a Melton boy who ‘touched the hearts of everyone he met’

William Billingsley pictured a year ago with mum Karen Dack (right), brother Finlay and family friend Natalie Brown, who organised a community DIY SOS campaign to redesign the back garden EMN-180808-092750001
William Billingsley pictured a year ago with mum Karen Dack (right), brother Finlay and family friend Natalie Brown, who organised a community DIY SOS campaign to redesign the back garden EMN-180808-092750001
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The mother of a 12-year-old boy who has sadly lost his brave 14-month battle with cancer said her son ‘touched the hearts of everyone he met’.

William Billingsley passed away peacefully at his Melton home on Friday with family members by his side.

William Billingsley and family with Leicester City mascot Filbert Fox at a charity fundraiser at Asfordby EMN-180808-092652001

William Billingsley and family with Leicester City mascot Filbert Fox at a charity fundraiser at Asfordby EMN-180808-092652001

Despite being confined to a wheelchair and undergoing a gruelling course of chemotherapy, William was determined to live as full a life as possible, watching his beloved football team Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley and attending lessons at John Ferneley College.

His devastated mother, Karen Dack, paid a moving tribute to her boy when she spoke to the Melton Times this week.

She said: “William always had a smile on his face.

“He was very kind and wanted to give his money to homeless people.

Melton boy William Billingsley is presented with his special advent calendar by staff at the town's Poundland store EMN-180808-092615001

Melton boy William Billingsley is presented with his special advent calendar by staff at the town's Poundland store EMN-180808-092615001

“He was amazing and he touched the hearts of everyone he met.”

Since William was diagnosed with spinal cancer in May 2017 we have reported on a number of activities Melton people have organised to support him.

Friends and local tradespeople worked together to level the back garden of his family home so he could get his wheelchair outdoors and regulars at The Grapes pub had their heads shaved to raise £1,000 for him only last month.

A charity football night at Asfordby generated £3,000 for William and, at Christmas, staff at Melton’s Poundland store created a special advent calendar of gifts for him because his chemotherapy treatment had made chocolate taste horrible.

Karen said: “The Melton community really came together to raise money for William and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for him.”

William attended Brownlow Primary School and was a normal energetic young boy until he complained one day of having a stiff neck.

He visited Latham House Medical Practice where a doctor suspected he had pulled a muscle.

But the terrible news was later confirmed after hospital tests that he had a grade four spinal tumour.

It was an aggressive form of cancer and the tumour could not be removed because of its delicate location in William’s body.

He was unaware but his family knew he had just 12 to 15 months left to live.

Karen said: “How do you tell a little boy he is going to die?

“He would have given up. We just tried to make his last few months as comfortable for him as we could.”

William was overjoyed to be able to watch Tottenham play Arsenal in an executive box in February and he received a video message of support from his favourite player, Dele Alli.

He doted on his new baby sister, Fleur, who he used to call ‘my beautiful princess’.

And he was also very close to eight-year-old brother, Finlay, who helped feed William when he grew weaker.

Finlay said: “William was the best brother ever.”

William’s grandparents, Doug and Diane Struthers, also spoke fondly of their grandson.

Diane said: “He really was the apple of your eye – an amazing little boy.”

William’s auntie Julie has organised a special balloon release in the town park on Monday at 6pm to celebrate William’s life.

Those who would like to take part are invited to buy blue or white balloons – to represent the colours of Tottenham – from the card shop in The Mall on Nottingham Street.

An open funeral service for William will be held at 12 noon St Mary’s Church in Melton, on Tuesday August 21, where mourners are asked to wear the blue and white colours of Tottenham FC.

The service will be followed by a private family burial and wake.