“In so many ways Sebastian was a typical nine year old, and yet his determination to help others battling with life-limiting disease showed a selflessness and maturity that belied his youth. His life may have been short but it was fully lived and his legacy lives on through the actions of the charity that proudly bears his name.” Jane Gates, Sebastian’s mummy
In June 2001, at the age of 7, Sebastian Gates was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour - a rare form of childhood cancer. Over the next two-and-a-half years he endured many operations, a stem-cell transplant, scores of chemotherapy courses and radiotherapy. Sadly, Sebastian died on Christmas Eve 2003.
Throughout his illness, Sebastian showed remarkable courage and a maturity that belied his nine years. Sebastian’s approach to his cancer was always positive and a source of inspiration to all who met him. Instead of focusing on himself, Sebastian sought opportunities to help others through their individual battles with illness and disease.
Having raised the funds required for a much-needed refurbishment of the Children’s Cancer Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Sebastian turned his attention to the plight of families struggling to cope with all that accompanies a child’s battle with a life-threatening condition.
In the month before he died, Sebastian launched a new fundraising drive to establish a holiday home that would provide somewhere exclusively for families to spend precious time together, away from the hospitals and punishing treatment programmes that govern the lives of cancer patients and others with life-threatening conditions. Sebastian believed the holiday home should be available all year and should offer respite breaks to families with sick youngsters.
In many ways, Sebastian was a typical nine-year-old. His greatest pleasures in life were simple - he loved games of chess and football with his Daddy, devouring impossibly large novels (most notably the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy), cuddling up to his sister Rebecca whilst listening to Coldplay, playing on the PlayStation with friends, watching The Simpsons and supporting his favourite football team, Chelsea. He had a very dry sense of humour and he was a truly gifted impersonator. He was rarely “the best” at anything, but he always tried his hardest and loved to take part in all of life’s challenges.
Life for Sebastian was certainly of the “glass half-full” variety. His ambition was to be a pilot; he loved the idea of surfing the sky and spent many hours attached to a flight simulator - invariably flying upside down and often ending with a spectacular crash! His life was sadly short but his name lives on in the actions of the Trust. His memory is perpetuated by those who loved him most for being such a wonderful son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.