Rugby club rallies behind 15-year-old player diagnosed with rare bone cancer as Haddington hold series of events

The fight against cancer visits Haddington rugby club this weekend, with a series of events being held to support of a local family dealing with a doubly cruel blow.

While Robin and Lyn Hamilton continued to come to terms with 13-year-old daughter Nancy’s long-standing neurological disorder, Dystonia, a degenerative disease which has deprived her of speech and some movement, 15-year-old son Archie learned this autumn that he is facing prolonged chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy, to remove an inoperable spinal tumour.

The local rugby club, where Robin coached and Archie played, has rallied to offer support, stepping up with a fund-raiser at Neilson Park for the Bone Cancer Research Trust. Archie’s under-16 team will play a friendly against Duns at noon on Saturday, December 10, before Haddington undertake a Tennent’s East Division One match against, appropriately, Leith. Robin, 50, previously played for them.

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Bucket collections, raffles, baking stalls etc are lined-up on a day which will also feature “some surprises” according to the Haddington club president, Keith Wallace, and will be launched by the local pipe band. Robin counts Irvine Welsh as a relative through his grand-father, John Welsh, being the author and playwright’s uncle. He is grateful to the rugby community for its support.

Archie Hamilton is pictured with sisters Murin and Nancy as well as his mum and dad, Lyn and Robin.

“We are overwhelmed at the support we are receiving,” he explained. “I coached Haddington under-16s and the club knew about my connection with Leith, so this is the obvious fixture to build things around. Rugby has been a huge part of my life and Archie’s. There are a huge number of people we know through the sport. It’s typical of rugby to respond like this. Awareness has to be raised of Archie’s type of cancer becuase it can mask itself as a sports injury at first.”

An initial examination suspected sciatica but an MRI scan revealed Ewing Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer at the base of the spine. “Doctors are talking now about absolutely getting rid of this cancer bearing in mind it can come back and will have to be monitored,” Robin explained. “We have to be strong for our kids (the family also have 10-year-old daughter, Murin). There is no option, but it can be hard.”

All this against the background of Nancy’s Dystonia, a highly variable neurological movement disorder characterised by involuntary muscle contractions. “Nancy’s condition is long term which we came to terms with some time ago,” added Robin. “But it has all been devastating. You never want to hear of anybody suffering or having cancer, especially children.”

As part of their fund-raising efforts, Robin and Lyn Hamilton, along with Archie, shaved their heads to raise money for the Bone Cancer Research Trust’s Lifeshavers campaign quickly raising more than £3,500. Also, a friend has set up a Justgiving page to help alleviate some of the stress being experienced by the family. It currently stands at £10,884.

Keith Wallace, president of Haddington Rugby Club, added: “At times like this rugby looks after its own. I would appeal to as many locals and rugby people as possible to come along and it is great that ourselves, Leith and Trinity Accies, who Robin also played for, have bought into the fund-raiser.”

Leith president Jim Smith added: “So many people want to assist Robin Hamilton and his family an initial challenge was co-ordinating all the efforts.”

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To support the Bone Cancer Research Trust fundraiser, go to justgiving.com/page/archiesheadshave or to support the family, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/zoe-leitch