The mother of Bradley Lowery, the England football mascot whose battle with childhood cancer touched millions of people, has spoken of how she tried to hide her pain from the public.
Gemma Lowery promised to continue her brave son’s legacy by fighting for other sick children with a foundation in his name.
In an interview for ITV Tyne Tees, the mother from Blackhall, County Durham, said she was so pleased her six-year-old had some amazing experiences, such as leading out England at Wembley with his friend Jermain Defoe, which the family can remember with fondness.
Mrs Lowery told the news programme: “Living with the fact your child is not going to survive and then your child dying and being in the public eye is pretty horrendous.
“In private I was extremely bad in terms of grief, I used to cry myself to sleep. But when you go out into the public, you put this face on, you become an actress.”
She said the family decided to make special memories with Bradley when they knew he was not going to survive the neuroblastoma which took his life in 2017.
He was a mascot for his beloved Sunderland and struck up a remarkable friendship with Defoe, who visited him in hospital.
Mrs Lowery said: “He was a mascot at Sunderland, England, the Grand National, he had a horse named after him. Who can get to say their child did that?
“He had thousands and thousands of people singing his name, and he actually knew he was famous. He used to say, ‘Mammy, you do know I’m famous’.
“It’s nice to think back on those memories, I am so pleased that I have got them. I am so pleased he got a chance to do that before he went.”
The Bradley Lowery Foundation has won permission to build a retreat in Scarborough for seriously ill children and their families, is working with 20 other poorly youngsters, campaigns to get new drugs in the UK, and has made a £200,000 donation for neuroblastoma research.
Mrs Lowery said she tried everything to save Bradley and is now doing the same for his foundation.
She said: “I couldn’t even bear the thought of letting him down now.”