BRAVE Ballycastle boy Conor McIlroy returned to school recently following a gruelling two year battle with cancer.
The 10-year-old St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School pupil is spending up to three hours a day in lessons after he underwent life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumour followed by a year of chemotherapy.
Conor was first diagnosed with the tumour at the start of 2010 at the age of just eight.
The youngster had been complaining of headaches and parents Charlie and Tracy took Conor to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.
Concerned staff there rushed him to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where the extent of his condition was revealed - much to the horror of Charlie and Tracy.
Since his diagnosis Conor has undergone lengthy bouts of radiotherapy and chemotherapy as well as the major operation to remove the tumour.
“Conor was diagnosed with a brain tumour two years ago at the age of eight,” Charlie told the Times.
“Since then the treatment has been very hard on him.
“Conor had an MRI scan last month which came back clear which is very good news and a relief for us as a family.
“He is back to school now for three hours a day although it is tiring for him.”
Conor attends physiotherapy sessions every week in Ballymoney and MRI scans every three months in order to monitor his condition.
And thankfully he appears to be going from strength to strength.
As well as returning to school, Conor is increasingly getting out and about and taking part in sports and play with his friends.
Charlie said his son - one of the couple’s four children - has battled bravely throughout the past two years.
Indeed his inspirational attitude has brought him to the attention of not only those in his hometown, but also as far afield as Manchester - the home of his beloved Man United.
Last August Conor had the honour of being selected as a mascot for United legend Paul Scholes’ testimonial match at which the footie-mad lad got to rub shoulders with the midfield maestro as well as a number of his other heroes including Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs.
And later that year he was chosen to flick the switch on Ballycastle’s Christmas lights.
Last Christmas he made the magical trip to visit Santa Claus in Lapland courtesy of Northern Ireland’s Children to Lapland Trust.
Throughout Conor’s treatment the family has been supported by the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.
Among the services the charity provides are day trips and visits for sick children and their families in an effort to normalise their lives and give them a lift.
As a way of saying thank you to the body for their care over the past couple of years, Charlie and Tracy are holding a fundraising night at the Central Bar in Ballycastle on Friday 27 April.
County singers Justin McGurk and Kevin Hughes will be performing and there will be a raffle with a number of superb prizes up for grabs including a hotel break in Bundoran, four course meal for two, a hamper worth £150, a painting by a local artist and much more.
Tickets are just £10 with all proceeds going to Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.
For more information on the night call into the Central Bar or phone Charlie on 07538113247.