Clarets fan (nine) on track to run 60 miles and raise thousands for hospital where best pal is being treated

Good friends are hard to find, but thankfully, not in Whalley.

Best friends Freddie Xavi (left) and Hughie Higginson
Best friends Freddie Xavi (left) and Hughie Higginson

For caring nine-year-old Whalley schoolboy Freddie Xavi is running 100km before Christmas to raise as much money as possible for Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, where his best pal, Hughie Higginson, is receiving treatment for leukaemia.

Ten-year-old Hughie, who is a pupil at Wheatley Lane Primary School, Fence, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in September, and faces three-and-a-half years of treatment at RMCH.

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Freddie (9), who attends Whalley Primary School and is a signed player at Accrington Stanley's Academy in their Under-10s team, began running on November 6th and is running 2km a day with a couple of slightly longer runs to raise cash for the hospital. And he has already smashed his initial fundraising goal of £1,000, after almost 700 people made donations to his JustGiving page with the total currently at an impressive £12,000!

Freddie's challenge continues to attract a lot of attention on social media . And the boys, who are avid Clarets' fans, were over the moon to receive a surprise visit from England footie star and Burnley defender James Tarkowski over the weekend, who gave them each the latest PlayStation 5 consoles.

Tarkowski wrote on the PS5 box: “To Freddie, What an amazing friend you are!”

And to Hughie, he put: “Keep strong mate, you’ve got this!"

Speaking about the courage shown by his best pal, Freddie said: "Hughie is being incredibly brave and has faced it head on without any moaning. He's had over 50 blood tests, numerous scans and trips to theatre and he's still smiling and entertaining the staff on Ward 84. Everyone is so proud of his positive attitude and resilience to everything that has been thrown at him, what a superstar! Keep going Hughie bro, you got this!"

Meanwhile, Freddie's proud parents, Duncan and Sarah, who live in Whalley, have been humbled by the support so far. They said: "The support Freddie has received has been unbelievable and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to share or donate. He has had donations from all over the world

They added: "We are both so proud of him and his effort to raise money for RMCH. After finding out about Hughie and the other children who are treated on ward 84 he wanted to find a way to help and set himself a big challenge, but one that we have no doubt in him completing! It is an amazing charity that do very special work to help children who are bravely battling cancer."

Anyone wishing to support Freddie's Christmas charity challenge is asked to click here