Wanstead charity worker celebrates 15th year collecting gifts for sick children over Christmas
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:13 27 November 2019
A Wanstead charity worker who spent his childhood in hospital and recently beat cancer is celebrating his 16th year appealing for gifts for sick children over Christmas.
As a baby Frank Charles had Hirshsprung disease, a rare birth defect that kept him in hospital for the first few years of his life.
Years later his son Ashley contracted the same disease which took his life just a week before his second birthday.
He told the Recorder: "I survived it when I was young myself but my son didn't - it was devastating, everything went in an instant.
"It's about what you can do for others and losing my son really humbled me."
He set up the charity Frank Charles Give a Gift Appeal to give presents to sick children to spread some festive cheer for those who are too ill to go home over the holidays.
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As a child Frank spent several years in Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the memory of that, along with his son's passing inspired him to create the gift appeal in Ashley's memory.
In 2010 Frank, who carried a torch in the 2012 London Olympics, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but throughout that entire time his charity work is what gave him the strength to get through it.
He said: "When I got sick I nearly shut down but going out and feeding rough sleepers and visiting the children in hospital kept me going.
"It gave me something to cling to."
Last October Frank got the good news that his cancer is in remission.
When he was 16 years old Frank was homeless himself so he started the organisation Feed the Streetz, and goes out once a week with his wife to feed the homeless in Stratford and Ilford.
Frank, 56, will be visiting Whipps Cross Hospital on December 23 to deliver gifts as part of this year's appeal. For more information or to donate gifts, visit http://www.frankcharles.org.uk/