A LEUKAEMIA research project has opened in memory of a Monmouth schoolboy after an astonishing fundraising effort brought in £100,000 in less than a year.

The Tom Walker Cancer Wales PhD Studentship for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia Research is named after the 13-year-old, from Devauden, who was diagnosed with the illness in June last year.

Described by his school as quiet, considerate, and caring, Tom did not recover from an operation required to start the treatment of the disease, and died the day after the diagnosis.

Following the Monmouth School for Boys pupil's sudden death, his family, friends and the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ community united to raise money for Cancer Research Wales.

In October 2018, Cancer Research Wales announced it would set up a fund in Tom’s memory and the £100,000 target has been reached within 11 months.

“We’d like to thank the thousands of people who have donated money and organised and helped with dozens of events and challenges over the last 15 months since Tom died of acute myeloid leukaemia,” the Walker family said this week.

“This PhD studentship is a result of all their contributions and is an amazing tribute to Tom.”

Tom was himself an enthusiastic fundraiser, and three months before his death was the youngest of 90 people who defied cold and wet conditions to tackle a Brecon Beacons Night Hike, raising money for Cancer Research Wales.

Since his death, his family – parents, Tim and Debbie; and sisters Holly and Emily – have led efforts to raise the £100,000 needed to set up the research fund, supported by Tom’s friends and school community.

Chief among those fundraising events was Swim for Tom, a 12-hour swimathon organised by Tom’s sister Holly and held in Monmouth in January.

Around 650 people took part, swimming a total of 619 miles and raising thousands of pounds for Tom’s memorial fund.

Other support has come from sponsored marathon runs and the Monmouth’s Got Talent schools competition; and last year, a Monmouth School for Boys rowing team raced across the length of Loch Ness to raise money for Cancer Research Wales in Tom’s name.

Dr Andrew Daniel, headmaster at Monmouth School for Boys, said: “The resilience of Tom’s family has been remarkable throughout and they are an inspiration to all of us.

“Tom’s death has been a terrible shock for the whole Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools community.

“It has been an absolute privilege to work with the Walker family and be a part of the remarkable fund-raising campaign.

“We are delighted that the grant call for the studentship in Tom’s name has gone live because we believe this project will give someone a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference.”

The Tom Walker Cancer Wales PhD Studentship project is set to begin no later than October 2020.

The appointed student and host laboratory will keep in touch with Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools and community groups throughout the project.

Meanwhile, fundraising in Tom’s memory will continue with further individual and school-led events planned – including an attempt to set the world record for travelling across Loch Ness in a pedalo, on September 28; and the second Swim for Tom on January 12, 2020.

For full details about the three-year studentship, visit: https://www.cancerresearchwales.co.uk/research/available-grants/tom-walker-aml-studentship/