SHE was inspired to write a book in memory of the daughter of her close friends who died from a rare form of childhood cancer.

And now the lawyer turned children's author and illustrator has helped to raise money for a charity which could offer valuable help to families during time of need through book sales.

Little Maisie Arroyo was born prematurely in September 2019 and when Miss Lucas was first introduced to her it was as Chicken Legs as the little one's legs hadn't filled out at the time.

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"Maisie had already overcome some huge challenges before coming home. Originally, the book was planned as a first birthday present for Maisie from "Auntie Jenny", as I dabble in a bit of watercolour painting and calligraphy.

"However in March 2020, just as work on the “Birthday Book” began, six-months-old Maisie was diagnosed with a malignant rhabdoid tumour, a very rare form of childhood cancer. Rhabdoid tumours can start in the brain, spine, kidneys or other parts of the body, Maisie's started in her kidneys. Symptoms can include abdominal swelling, nausea/vomiting, tiredness and an inability to do skills previously mastered. Treatment usually includes intensive chemotherapy, surgery and, in some cases, radiotherapy. Sadly, the prognosis for most children diagnosed with these tumours is very poor."

Jenny Lucas wrote and illustrated the book

Jenny Lucas wrote and illustrated the book

Ms Lucas, 32, from Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, described Maisie as feisty, strong-willed and hilarious, and the youngster was dubbed the "Ward 2 Diva" by the nursing staff who cared for her at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

"She fought bravely against the cruellest of diseases, always with a smile on her little face. Sadly, despite the best efforts of her medical team, Maisie passed away in September 2020. She was just one year, one week and one-day-old.

"As a friend I just wanted to do something and to reach out but we were in the midst of social distancing restrictions," added Ms Lucas. "Under normal circumstances you would be able to be there for someone and I wanted to do something tangible."

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Sales of the book have already raised £5,000 for a Scottish children’s cancer charity which has supported Maisie’s family during their hardest times.

During her illness, Maisie and her family were supported by many wonderful charities, including LoveOliver which was set up in 2011 by Andy and Jennifer Gill in memory of their son, Oliver, who suffered from the same form of cancer as Maisie.

Proceeds from the sale of Chicken Legs' Arroyo are being donated directly to LoveOliver helping to support their work in childhood cancer research and providing practical support to families like Maisie's.

Jenny Lucas has received recognition from Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Jenny Lucas has received recognition from Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The charity provides invaluable practical support to families at the Royal Hospitals for Sick Children in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. They work closely with CLIC Sargent social workers to provide supermarket vouchers and financial grants for all families, gift packs for children who have suffered a relapse, healthy frozen meals for parents of children going through long inpatient stays and quality digital thermometers for each family facing childhood cancer.

Ms Gill said: "We feel hugely honoured that Chicken Legs' Arroyo is raising money for LoveOliver - this will be added to Maisie's growing legacy to help other families facing the same devastating journey. What a beautiful tribute Jenny has created for Maisie.

"LoveOliver funds vital research into childhood cancers, and provides a range of practical support to families affected by it across Scotland. We set up LoveOliver in 2011 in memory of our own baby son, Oliver, who lost his life to the same cancer as Maisie, on Christmas Day 2010, aged just 24 weeks old."

LoveOliver has already part-funded one four-year PhD studentship at Newcastle University and is currently fully funding a second. Donations have also been made to other areas of research. The charity also donates games, books, toys, crafts and therapy supplies, when requested, to the three children's oncology wards.

And Ms Lucas has recently received recognition through a prestigious Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award from the Cabinet Office for her fundraising work, previous winners of the award include the late Captain Sir Tom Moore.

In a personal letter to Jenny, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “You have made a beautiful tribute to Maisie’s life with your heartwarming book ‘Chicken Legs’ Arroyo’. Through grief you have created a universal story of strength and bravery.

“The thousands of pounds raised for ‘LoveOliver’ will boost research into childhood cancer and provide practical and emotional support for families. This is a wonderful tribute to Maisie.”

For more information about the book, please see Herald readers are being offered a 10% discount on any purchase via the Chicken Legs' Arroyo shop. The 10% discount will be covered by Ms Lucas, meaning that a £13 purchase of the book (which is usually £3 printing costs + £10 donation to the charity) will be £11.70 (plus postage) and the £10 donation will still go to the charity. To use this discount, customers should quote 'HERALD10' at the checkout.