AT just five years old, leukaemia sufferer Charlie Allen has embarked on his second course of chemotherapy – a painful treatment he will have to bear for the next three-and-a-half years.

Charlie, from Stratton, was diagnosed with white blood cell cancer on June 4.

His body did not respond to the first round of chemotherapy and he developed two blood clots on the brain. A second course of treatment has begun but its effect will not be clear until next month.

His friends and family have launched an appeal to help mother Kelly Brown pay for a wheelchair to help her son remain mobile, as well as a special car seat. They could total more than £1,000.

“It has been awful,” said family friend Kelly Rowlands. “He has been in and out of hospital and the chemo has weakened him.

“He is on his second course of chemo and he was not responding to the first lot. We don’t know if he’s responding to this one yet. We will find out in six weeks.

“He is housebound because of the risk of infection so it’s a lonely time for him and his mum Kelly can’t get on with her normal life.

“She is exhausted but she just carries on. She is amazing.

“Charlie, all the things she has to deal with and the finance – none of it is simple. So we are aiming to raise money for a disabled car seat – and that alone is £700 – plus a good comfortable wheelchair and educational books and toys, because he can’t go out of the house.

“And Kelly has to pay for transport to go to and from hospital. It is going to be three and half years of hell. The community have been rallying around and Kelly has been overwhelmed.”

Ms Rowlands added: “Charlie is the most charismatic little boy you could ever meet. He is still smiling. Through all the pain and hardship he’s been an amazingly brave and courageous little boy. He can still make the room light up.”

Friends and family will gather at Drove Road Fire Station for the first in a series of fundraisers tomorrow – a car wash organised by firefighter Dusty Close, whose daughter Grace is in Charlie’s class at Beechcroft Infant School.

He said: “Charlie is still quite poorly and it’s a stressful time for the family. We are hoping to raise £500. Half will go to Charlie and the other half to the Firefighters Charity.”

Beechcroft parents are organising a sponsored walk and Teddy Bear Picnic at Lydiard Park on August 30, which will be followed the next day by a fun day at the Wheatsheaf in Stratton.