‘My son walked in Steve Morgan’s shoes’

A Liverpool mum has spoken of her joy after discovering her son was a major inspiration for a £300m charity foundation – 23 years after he died of cancer.

George Hulme – known as Georgie – was only four when he lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Just before he died the youngster had his photo taken with Redrow founder Steve Morgan ahead of the entrepreneur’s attempted 365-mile Guinness Book of World Records’ trek across the Pyrenees in aid of a new oncology unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

A smiling George was pictured wearing the businessman’s builders boots and the photo has had pride of place in his mum Janet Hulme’s house in Speke ever since.

Tragically he died shortly after the photo was taken but Mr Morgan never forgot the meeting and said George was a major inspiration for the creation of the Steve Morgan Foundation in 2001.

The entrepreneur has donated assets totalling £300m in that time and has spoken about George’s influence in his life in interviews.

Janet had been unaware of her son’s involvement until the article appeared in the Liverpool Echo on April 10 by disability champion Tom Dowling in which Mr Morgan recounted his meeting with George.

She said: “I couldn’t believe what we were reading. My two daughters read the Echo with me and said ‘they’re still talking about our Georgie mum’. It would have been his 27th birthday on April 12 and I said ‘it’s a sign’. It’s so lovely and it really lifted me up.

“I’ve never forgotten that photo and how much it cheered Georgie up. Steve and three of his friends were about to embark on a charity trek from the Mediterranean coast across the Pyrenees to the Atlantic coast. The team popped into the ward before they left.

“Georgie was in bed and Steve said to him ‘do you want to try my boots on?’ He jumped out of bed and absolutely loved it. Georgie and Steve were both made up and it gave everyone a boost.”

The Pyrenees trek raised £365,000 for the new oncology unit but despite the best efforts of doctors Georgie died at home after suffering a relapse.

Janet recalled: “Georgie was my first child. I was 22 when he was born and he was such a big character.

“His father Ady is a Cockney and I’m a Scouser so there was always lots of banter flying around. Georgie used to love it. At the age of three he started getting sticky eyes which the doctors thought was conjunctivitis

“However his eyes started to swell and his stomach was swollen and as a mum I knew something was wrong. The consultant at Alder Hey decided to check his bone marrow and Ady said ‘they’re going to see if he’s got cancer’. A few hours later we were told he had acute myeloid leukemia.”

However things quickly went from bad to worse.

“The consultant explained it was a very aggressive cancer and said Georgie only had a 20 per cent survival rate,” recalled Janet. “Because he didn’t have any siblings we couldn’t go down the route of a bone marrow transplant so he started chemotherapy.

“It seemed to be working and the cancer went into remission but as soon as the treatment stopped he relapsed. The doctors tried everything but there was nothing they could do.”

Tragically Janet and Ady’s next child – a daughter called Gemma – was stillborn in June 1999.

Janet, now 49, said: “It was an emotional time but now I’m a very proud mum to 20-year-old Rosie and 12-year-old Caoimhe. Despite the fact they never met Georgie we talk about him all the time.”

Explaining how she came to see the article in the Echo she said: “April 10 was the day of the Grand National and it was one of Georgie’s favourite days of the year.

“After the race Caoimhe’s dad pulled up outside the house and told us he had seen the article in the Echo and handed it to Caoimhe to show me.  I couldn’t believe it.

“I’m involved in the Home is Where the Heart Is initiative, which is part of Everton in the Community and has been one of the beneficiaries of the Steve Morgan Foundation.

“Lots of people would like to walk in the shoes of Steve Morgan and I’m proud to say my little boy did just that.”

Steve Morgan said meeting George encouraged him to become a philanthropist.

“George was a special little guy who became our mascot for the trek,” he said. “One of the nurses told me before we set off for the Pyrenees how seriously ill he was and that he only had days to live.  That news upset us all so very much, I don’t mind admitting that I cried.

“On the second day of the walk it was freezing cold and a driving blizzard, we were between 1,000-2,000m high that day. We started our trek at 5.30am and walked through to about 6pm or 7pm that night. It was relentless.

“The weather was relentless all day and one or two of the guys said ‘why don’t we just ease off today?’ and I just said ‘let’s do it for George’.  Without doubt, it was George who took us through that day.

“When I came back, I was determined to do more to help others and set up something special for charity.

“I stepped out of Redrow in November 2000 and within six months I set up the Foundation. 20 years later I still have that photo of George on our wall.”

A Liverpool mum has spoken of her joy after discovering her son was a major inspiration for a £300m charity foundation – 23 years after he died of cancer.

George Hulme – known as Georgie – was only four when he lost his battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Just before he died the youngster had his photo taken with Redrow founder Steve Morgan ahead of the entrepreneur’s attempted 365-mile Guinness Book of World Records’ trek across the Pyrenees in aid of a new oncology unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

A smiling George was pictured wearing the businessman’s builders boots and the photo has had pride of place in his mum Janet Hulme’s house in Speke ever since.

Tragically he died shortly after the photo was taken but Mr Morgan never forgot the meeting and said George was a major inspiration for the creation of the Steve Morgan Foundation in 2001.

The entrepreneur has donated assets totalling £300m in that time and has spoken about George’s influence in his life in interviews.

Janet had been unaware of her son’s involvement until the article appeared in the Liverpool Echo on April 10 by disability champion Tom Dowling in which Mr Morgan recounted his meeting with George.

She said: “I couldn’t believe what we were reading. My two daughters read the Echo with me and said ‘they’re still talking about our Georgie mum’. It would have been his 27th birthday on April 12 and I said ‘it’s a sign’. It’s so lovely and it really lifted me up.

“I’ve never forgotten that photo and how much it cheered Georgie up. Steve and three of his friends were about to embark on a charity trek from the Mediterranean coast across the Pyrenees to the Atlantic coast. The team popped into the ward before they left.

“Georgie was in bed and Steve said to him ‘do you want to try my boots on?’ He jumped out of bed and absolutely loved it. Georgie and Steve were both made up and it gave everyone a boost.”

The Pyrenees trek raised £365,000 for the new oncology unit but despite the best efforts of doctors Georgie died at home after suffering a relapse.

Janet recalled: “Georgie was my first child. I was 22 when he was born and he was such a big character.

“His father Ady is a Cockney and I’m a Scouser so there was always lots of banter flying around. Georgie used to love it. At the age of three he started getting sticky eyes which the doctors thought was conjunctivitis

“However his eyes started to swell and his stomach was swollen and as a mum I knew something was wrong. The consultant at Alder Hey decided to check his bone marrow and Ady said ‘they’re going to see if he’s got cancer’. A few hours later we were told he had acute myeloid leukemia.”

However things quickly went from bad to worse.

“The consultant explained it was a very aggressive cancer and said Georgie only had a 20 per cent survival rate,” recalled Janet. “Because he didn’t have any siblings we couldn’t go down the route of a bone marrow transplant so he started chemotherapy.

“It seemed to be working and the cancer went into remission but as soon as the treatment stopped he relapsed. The doctors tried everything but there was nothing they could do.”

Tragically Janet and Ady’s next child – a daughter called Gemma – was stillborn in June 1999.

Janet, now 49, said: “It was an emotional time but now I’m a very proud mum to 20-year-old Rosie and 12-year-old Caoimhe. Despite the fact they never met Georgie we talk about him all the time.”

Explaining how she came to see the article in the Echo she said: “April 10 was the day of the Grand National and it was one of Georgie’s favourite days of the year.

“After the race Caoimhe’s dad pulled up outside the house and told us he had seen the article in the Echo and handed it to Caoimhe to show me.  I couldn’t believe it.

“I’m involved in the Home is Where the Heart Is initiative, which is part of Everton in the Community and has been one of the beneficiaries of the Steve Morgan Foundation.

“Lots of people would like to walk in the shoes of Steve Morgan and I’m proud to say my little boy did just that.”

Steve Morgan said meeting George encouraged him to become a philanthropist.

“George was a special little guy who became our mascot for the trek,” he said. “One of the nurses told me before we set off for the Pyrenees how seriously ill he was and that he only had days to live.  That news upset us all so very much, I don’t mind admitting that I cried.

“On the second day of the walk it was freezing cold and a driving blizzard, we were between 1,000-2,000m high that day. We started our trek at 5.30am and walked through to about 6pm or 7pm that night. It was relentless.

“The weather was relentless all day and one or two of the guys said ‘why don’t we just ease off today?’ and I just said ‘let’s do it for George’.  Without doubt, it was George who took us through that day.

“When I came back, I was determined to do more to help others and set up something special for charity.

“I stepped out of Redrow in November 2000 and within six months I set up the Foundation. 20 years later I still have that photo of George on our wall.”

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