Lotto winner to help cancer teen’s Florida dream

LOTTERY millionaire Jane Park has made an emotional pledge to help make teenage cancer fighter Leon Rendle’s Florida dream come true.

Tuesday, 17th March 2015, 9:34 am
Jane Park, with Leon Rendle and his mum Nicky. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The EuroMillions winner was so moved by news that his hopes of a last holiday with his family are in tatters because of insurance red tape that she contacted the Evening News to offer her help.

Jane, 19, stepped in after Leon’s mum Nicky told how her attempts to take out travel insurance for the trip to Orlando had hit a brick wall.

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Jane Park, with Leon Rendle and his mum Nicky. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Jane said: “I read in the article that they have got the money for the trip but it’s just that they don’t have insurance. However much or however little they need, I’ll do it.

“It’s natural to want to help someone in the community. We are both Hibs fans.”

Today, Nicky said she was amazed by Jane’s kind gesture.

“It’s phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t thank her enough for her support. Everyone has been amazing since the Evening News story appeared. There has been so much kindness towards us, it’s actually overwhelming.”

Jane, of Niddrie, scooped £1m with her first ever lottery ticket in 2013. Despite her fortune, however, the down-to-earth millionaire has just taken a job at her local chip shop.

But the gesture could still be in vain – because of a frustrating “computer says no” hurdle.

One insurance insider described the computer system used by almost all firms – including ones specialising in providing cancer patients’ travel – as “brutal”.

“The system is generic and superficial in nature,” said Dr Krish Shastri, director at InsureCancer, one of the few that does not use the system.

“It’s brutal. Companies are piling on frustration and heartache to parents.

“Can you imagine what it feels like if you are a mum calling about your son and each computer repeatedly asks if he has had a terminal prognosis and says he can’t be insured?

“It’s one of the most brutal questions you can ask a parent. It’s an outrage.”

We revealed yesterday how the Leith Academy pupil had been denied insurance even though his doctor has recommended a holiday. The family faces a race against time to organise the trip before the end of the month so Leon, 15, who has a rare form of Ewing’s sarcoma, can be home for his next gruelling bout of chemotherapy.

Yesterday, dozens of kind Evening News readers got in touch to suggest insurance specialists and offer support.

Among them was David Coutts, who lost his own son Christopher to a form of cancer and now runs The Cookie Jar Foundation aimed at helping families like the Rendles. He has organised contacts in the US to seek out insurance there.

Nicky said she was now feeling more optimistic about the family’s chances of travelling.

“The response from people has been incredible. It’s very humbling,” she said. “I’m actually now getting quite excited. It might actually happen.”