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Parents donate over 500 books to hospital in memory of son who died of cancer

The parents of a young boy who died of cancer have donated 571 books to Sheffield Children’s Hospital to celebrate World Book Day and continue their son’s legacy.

Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson, from Sheffield, cared for their son Jude who was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma at three years old at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in 2021, and died in his parents’ arms in September 2023.

Mr Mellon-Jameson, 34, said: “We read to Jude daily, even in his final days of life as he was being cared for at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. It transformed the cruel situation we were in, where we could create those last special memories with him.”

Before he died, their son founded Jude and the Book Factory, a community of young bookworms which turned into an adventure for Jude to share, swap and hide his books in public spaces for other children to claim as their own.

Arron and Lucy Arron Mellon-Jameson (Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson/PA)
Arron and Lucy Arron Mellon-Jameson (Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson/PA)

From parks to indoor play areas, farms and more, Jude hid hundreds of books for children to find, and a community of more than 500 children has developed, who are hiding their books so other youngsters can find them.

Jude’s dad, former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Arron Mellon-Jameson, said: “Jude touched many hearts and having this special project means we have a way of remembering Jude and can ensure that the Jude magic reaches as many people as possible.

“Even in his last days of life as he was slipping away, his imagination was still very much alive.”

Jude Mellon-Jameson was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma (Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson/PA)
Jude Mellon-Jameson was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma (Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson/PA)

Ms Mellon-Jameson, 35, who left her job as a pharmacy team leader when Jude was diagnosed, said: “We believe that hiding a book for another child is like giving a gift. The hiding and discovery mean they are no longer just books, they are keys to imagination, creativity and adventure.

“We understand how it feels to be in the hospital for such a long period of time when your child needs lifesaving treatment. Books were a great escape for Jude and us.

“We know first-hand how books can transport you to a different place and time, and that’s why we’re giving back to Sheffield Children’s, to ensure that children just like Jude can have their own adventures from the comfort of their beds.”

Throughout Jude’s treatment, the family raised thousands of pounds for the Children’s Hospital Charity, including funds for the charity-funded cancer and leukaemia ward, where Jude spent much of the final years of his life.

The boy founded Jude and the Book Factory (Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson/PA)
The boy founded Jude and the Book Factory (Lucy and Arron Mellon-Jameson/PA)

Hub fundraising officer Jane Darby said: “Jude was an absolute joy. Jude and the Book Factory is a perfect legacy for him as he was such a character himself.

“The magic of Jude and the Book Factory has spread far and wide. Even my granddaughter has found a book, and she is so inspired that she will be wearing the Jude and the Book Factory’s logo as part of her own World Book Day costume.”

Children are encouraged to join Jude and the Book Factory, where registered “frends” receive a certificate, book labels to share the mission, and a badge or wildflower seeds to commemorate their contribution.

To get involved, visit judeandthebookfactory.co.uk.

To find out more about the Children’s Hospital Charity, visit tchc.org.uk/donate.