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Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony

2244. James Francis
2245. Rachel Francis

James and Rachel Francis, from Somerset, helped their daughter Hannah create her charity ‘Hannah Willberry Wonder Pony’ to fund research into bone cancer and to grant equine wishes to seriously ill young people after Hannah’s own diagnosis.

In 2015, Hannah was diagnosed with terminal osteosarcoma at the age of 16. Despite this horrific news, Hannah fought her illness with extraordinary courage, enduring months of constant pain and side effects from her treatment, and sadly passed away on 1st August 2016 at just 18 years of age.

As an accomplished and talented horse rider, Hannah was given a soft toy horse called ‘Willberry The Wonder Pony’ shortly after her diagnosis. Hannah started to tell her story through social media, using Willberry as her voice, and gained thousands of followers. In March 2016, Hannah established her charity, ‘Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony’ to grant equestrian-related experiences to seriously ill people and their families and fund  scientific research into osteosarcoma. With Willberry representing Hannah, the charity has now raised over £2 million, granted over 80 experiences and has funded eight scientific research projects at leading academic institutions.

Since Hannah’s passing, her charity has been led by her parents, Rachel and James, and supported by trustees who include Hannah’s grandmother, June. Rachel and James lead the charity exactly as Hannah wished, fulfilling her legacy and continuing the important work she started.

Congratulating James and Rachel on their award, Sarah Dyke, James and Rachel’s local MP for Somerton and Frome, said: 

“In Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony, Rachel and James have created a very fitting tribute to their daughter. With Hannah as their inspiration, they are funding vital research into cancer, whilst at the same time granting wonderfully life-affirming wishes to those affected by this cruel disease. Hannah leaves behind an enduring legacy and her parents should be extremely proud of all that they’re doing to keep her name and her unique spirit alive.”

James and Rachel said:

“We are deeply honoured to be recognised by The Prime Minister’s Points of Light award, but this is a tribute to our amazing daughter, Hannah, and the legacy she has left us which we are so proud and honoured to continue. Everyone who knew Hannah won’t be surprised in the slightest that, because of her, the charity she created has gone from strength to strength, but our entire focus is on ensuring we can continue Hannah’s vision to help others and provide some clinical hope for those diagnosed with this evil disease. We would also like to thank our army of volunteers and supporters, because they play such a critical part in helping us continue Hannah’s work.”

Find out more about ‘Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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