Heartbreak as brave six-year-old North Tyneside girl dies in her parents' arms after losing battle with brain tumour

Mercy Cuthbertson, who had a diffuse midline glioma. Pictured with her parents Paul and Lorraine.
Mercy Cuthbertson, who had a diffuse midline glioma. Pictured with her parents Paul and Lorraine. -Credit:Handout / Newcastle Chronicle

Mercy Cuthbertson - the adorable Forest Hall tot, six, who charmed people all over the world as she fought a heartbreaking brain tumour - died on Sunday morning.

Mercy's parents - serving Northumbria Police officers Paul and Lorraine - told ChronicleLive she had died "in our arms at home", with beloved puppies Teddy and Coco Junior providing comfort. Mercy had been diagnosed with an incurable DIPG - diffuse midline glioma early in 2023.

Lorraine said: "It's the most awful situation you can find yourself in as a mum or dad, but if we could have chosen how things would be, that's how."

Mercy's parents said their little one had been "amazing" and despite their pain they were so proud of, and grateful for, their time with her.

Remembering Mercy, she added: "Everyone says their kids are great, but she was truly amazing, respectful, a bundle of energy." Mum Lorraine added that, even for a tot, Mercy had developed a "black" sense of humour - and that in one of her final bits of schoolwork at Holystone Primary she had drawn a picture of her as a police officer in the future, following in mum and dad's footsteps.

Little Mercy Cuthbertson - who had a diffuse midline glioma brain tumour.
Little Mercy Cuthbertson - who had a diffuse midline glioma brain tumour. -Credit:Cuthbertson family

"She was a wonderful little girl who was going to go on to make her mark and make a difference," Lorraine added.

"We are still in the cycles of grief, no doubt about that, but I know I also feel great grattitude that I have had the opportunity to be her mum. We had six beautiful years of her and she was brilliant. Even in the midst of that grief, we both feel so much gratitude."

Lorraine said that she had been getting messages from as far afield as the USA and Australia and she and Paul wanted to thank all those who had supported their family. She said this included charities, friends and family like Liz Biggins who had been an incredible fundraiser for them.

Lorraine said support from the media and members of the public had also been touching - including when big Ant and Dec fan Mercy received a special Christmas video from her heroes.

For the last five or so months of her life, Mercy was able - thanks to fundraising - to be on an experimental ONC201 treatment - and her parents now hope her experience will help future youngsters with the devastating condition. Her parents paid tribute to her "strength, determination and resilience" - with both saying she had been an "incredible inspiration".

"She never lost hope, she was unwavering and she never looked for sympathy or portrayed herself as a victim. She has paved the way for other kids to get the treatment she did."

Lorraine said the team at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle - especially in neurology - who looked after her little girl had been exceptional.

She added: "The NHS can gets a lot of bad press, but the team at the RVI in particular in neurology have been absolutely fantastic and always working with us - across the four corners of the Earth, even - to find something to help Mercy."

Lorraine and Paul are going to set up a charity in Mercy's name - Mercy's Mighty Foundation - to help other families find time away with their seriously ill little ones. They want to provide respite support and cover the "little things" that families can struggle with when dealing with heartbreaking news.

Lorraine added: "Mercy's experience and her fight with DIPG has not been in vain She has left us with the strength and determination to make a difference. We will absolutely make that difference and she will never ever be forgotten."