Jak Trueman's family release balloons to mark sad anniversary

THE family of courageous teenager Jak Trueman will release balloons at his graveside today as they mark the first anniversary of his death.

Jak Trueman  with mum Allison and sister Aimie. Picture: contributed
Jak Trueman with mum Allison and sister Aimie. Picture: contributed

It’s been exactly 12 months since the 15-year-old from West Calder lost his battle against a rare form of blood cancer, leaving his family and friends devastated.

And at the exact time of his passing – 3.18pm – a dozen balloons will be released for each heartbreaking month they have spent without him.

Jak’s fundraising efforts in the weeks leading up to his death inspired those who knew him, as well as those who didn’t, and led ultimately to the creation of the Team Jak Foundation.

And despite their grief, his loved ones remain determined to continue his powerful legacy through the charity established in his name, which has already raised £165,000.

His mother Allison Barr, 45, revealed that she would lay a wreath of red roses on his grave and reflect quietly upon his life. She added: “I would say it [the anniversary] has been harder than I expected. In some ways, it’s almost as raw as it was when he died.

“It is difficult to focus. Obviously it is going to be a tough time but we will do our very best to dwell upon the positives.

“We want to move forward with the charity and with Jak’s dreams and to help other families in the same situation in his name.”

A further eight balloons, representing Jak and his close family members, are also due to be released from a memorial bench at Gala Park.

The Jak Trueman Challenge Cup is set to be held later this month – on Sunday, February 21 from 1.30pm at Almondvale Stadium, with all proceeds going towards the Team Jak Foundation.

Last year’s event, attended by football stars including Rangers legend Nacho Novo and ex-Celtic star Frank McAvennie, raised £13,200 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

This year’s teams will be Forth One Allstars led by Mark Martin vs West Calder High School made up of Jak’s friends, family, teammates and teachers.

Jak’s Den opened in December to support young cancer patients and their families and those with other debilitating illnesses.

A New York-themed ball to celebrate Jak’s life will be held on Friday, February 12 at Prestonfield House Hotel.

The fundraising event will include a three-course meal plus a glass of champagne, with tickets costing £750 for a table of ten or £75 per person.

Allison stressed that it was not just about making money for the charity but would also be a celebration of his life.

“We felt it was really important that we do something positive to mark this year,” she said.

“He had such a positive impact on the lives of others and this is about keeping that positivity going.”