A COMMUNITY is in mourning after a brave 12-year-old boy lost his battle against cancer.

Ben O’Shea, of The Crescent, Prestwich, died peacefully in hospital on September 3 and his funeral took place at Our Lady of Grace RC Church in Prestwich last Wednesday.

Afterwards, Ben’s funeral cortege passed by his school, St Monica’s RC High, on its way to Blackley cemetery, and hundreds of classmates lined the streets.

Ben leaves parents Paul, aged 46, and Sarah, aged 41, brothers Ryan, aged 20, Declan, aged 19, and Logan, aged 19 months, and grandparents Dan, Christine and Frank.

Ben’s mum, Sarah, said her son was an inspiration to others and thanked everyone for their support.

“We are really grateful for the support we have had,” said Mrs O’Shea.

“Ben loved life and was always willing to do new things when he could. He never complained and has really inspired others, especially his brothers, who were great with him.”

Ben first became poorly towards the end of last year and was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma — a type of thyroid cancer — in November. He was treated at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and at The Christie Hospital.

The keen Manchester United fan was visited in hospital over Christmas by some of the players.

Mrs O’Shea said: “Ben carried on the best he could. He went to watch Manchester United, and though he needed oxygen to help him, he was determined not to have it outside. He had to walk slowly, but it didn’t deter him.”

Mrs O’Shea also thanked the Rainbow Trust children’s charity staff for their support.

St Monica’s headteacher Andrea Letcher paid tribute, saying: “Ben was a model pupil. He was a bright, hardworking, friendly, happy boy who was always smiling. He was unfailingly polite and he never complained or felt sorry for himself.

“Ben bore his illness with enormous courage and a fortitude that belied his tender years. Our school was blessed to have had him with us even for such a short time and he will be remembered with a great deal of affection by staff and pupils alike.”

Mrs Letcher said: “We are preparing a box of memories to which children and staff are contributing. We will then arrange for these to be bound into a memory book to give to Ben’s parents.”

Ben’s family has asked for any donations to be made to the Young Oncology Unit at The Christie and St Monica’s pupils plan to organise fundraising events for the unit in the coming months.

The Christie Charity’s senior fundraising manager Fiona Ashcroft said: “We were incredibly sorry to hear this sad news and are so grateful to Ben’s family for this kind gesture.”

n The unit has a special place in the hearts of Prestwich residents, who helped raise £250,000 so it could be extended in memory of Robert Broude.

Robert, of Scholes Lane, died of cancer in 2004 aged 19 and was treated at the unit.