THE father of a six-year-old boy who died from meningitis is hoping the people of Hyndburn will get behind him to help him raise money to buy his son a headstone in time for what would have been his seventh birthday.
Lee McDonagh, 27, of Bellfield Road, Accrington is the devastated dad of Marti-Lee McDonagh, the Moor End Primary School pupil who died from Meningitis just 24 hours after complaining of flu symptoms in February.
His death rocked his family, who had also lost Marti-Lee’s grandad Richard Wheatcroft 10 weeks earlier to cancer.
More than 150 family, friends and school pals packed Accrington crematorium to say their goodbyes to the tragic youngster. But his heartbroken parents Sarah Magee, 25, of Oswald Street, Accrington and Lee have not yet been able to afford to pay for a plot and gravestone to lay his ashes to rest.
Lee said: "We want a lasting tribute to Marti-Lee and to have a special place where we can visit him. We have a plot next to his granddad, but things are very hard at the moment and we just can’t afford to pay for it or a headstone. It is just heartbreaking."
The couple, who are separated, are now appealing for help from the community to raise the £5,000 they need.
Lee has organised a raffle evening at the Whittakers Arms, on Burnley Road Accrington, on 20 June between 7.30pm and 9pm.
Prizes include a team-signed Accrington Stanley 09 shirt – not yet available in the shops – plus a team-signed junior and adult Blackburn Rovers 07/08 shirt, retro football programmes, a signed McFly CD plus £20 food and drinks vouchers for the Whittakers Arms.
Lee said: "Marti-Lee was full of life and into everything and was a massive Burnley supporter. He would have been very excited about their recent promotion. I really hope people will come to the raffle evening and help us raise the money we need. It would have been his birthday on 24 June, four days after the event, it would be amazing if we could have his headstone ordered for then.
"Our aim is to have another special service for him when we bury his ashes and finally lay him to rest forever."
Parents and fund-raisers behind Ellese Mulligan-Green’s memorial fund, the four-year-old tot who died from a brain tumour at Christmas, have pledge £200 to help pay for the headstone.
Marti-Lee’s mum Sarah added: "It would mean absolutely everything to have a special place to visit my special little boy."
Tickets for the event are on sale in pubs around Accrington and Oswaldtwistle from this week.