TRAGEDY BRINGING A COMMUNITY TOGETHER

Ahlia Williams only lived until seven years of age but the memories and the legacy this beautiful young lady left are amazing.

BEAUTIFUL AHLIA - A LASTING LEGACY

Ahlia suffered from an incurable brain cancer, Child defuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) which affects children. It occurs in the lowest stem-like part of the brain and affects most of the body’s vital functions including breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.

She passed away on November 29, 2020 at the age of just seven but in that time she had become a much loved and adored addition to the Leschenault Cricket Club in Bunbury, Western Australia.

Ahlia’s parents Katie and Bryce Williams were big supporters of the cricket club and would go along most Saturday’s to watch Katie’s brother, Ahlia’s uncle Tom Buchanan play in the senior team of which he is now captain.

CLOSE BOND - Ahlia with her uncle Tom

“Katie and Bryce would always be down at the cricket watching me play and for that reason Ahlia was always there too. All of my team-mates knew who Ahlia was but most teams did because she was such a vibrant young girl.

Tom said his niece was a hugely popular person at cricket each weekend. “Katie and Bryce would always be down at the cricket watching me play and for that reason Ahlia was always there too. All of my team-mates knew who Ahlia was but most teams did because she was such a vibrant young girl.

“When she was at the cricket everyone was drawn to her and just knew who Ahlia was and it speaks to Katie and Bryce the incredible girl they raised.”

This terrible cancer at present has no cure so Tom, with his cricket club right behind the grieving family decided to do an annual fundraiser to raise money into researching a cure.

“It’s things like this that really speak to the people at this club, the people who run the club. They’ve always been a family club and this is another example of that. That’s why I love the club so much, I’m so loyal and devoted. They have supported my family immensely.”

LEADING BY EXAMPLE Leschenault senior club cricket captain Tom Buchanan in action for his table topping side

Ahlia’s Blue Stumps Day began last year. Originally it was just for Leschenault’s match against neighbouring club Eaton but being a close supportive country cricket community in Bunbury, every other senior team also got on board to join in and raise money.

This Saturday is Ahlia’s Blue Stump day in Bunbury and again all of the local senior cricket teams are expected to get on board raising funds.

 

Check out the Leschenault Cricket Club Website and please support this wonderful cause.

Tom Buchanan said he and his family are humbled by the support. “It speaks to country sport the friends you make, the relationships you form and the other clubs have been willing to come on board. I’ve created some strong friendships with other clubs.”

Tom has gone a significant step further in his fund-raising efforts. He created a cycle event, “The Ride For Ahlia”. It’s a gruelling 260km challenge from Windy Harbour South of Bunbury to the Leschenault club grounds.

Last year riders raised $40,000 but for this year’s ride, held in October, they raised an amazing $110,000, that’s over $150,000 in two years towards the research for a cure of DIPG.

“When she was at the cricket everyone was drawn to her and just knew who Ahlia was and it speaks to Katie and Bryce the incredible girl they raised.”

Tom of course is over the moon with the response from people wanting to ride the event but also local business who have got behind the ride and he’s hopeful it will just keep gaining momentum in years to come.

The Leschenault Cricket Club is very much family orientated and Tom said it has been a huge factor in his family’s grieving process.

“It’s things like this that really speak to the people at this club, the people who run the club. They’ve always been a family club and this is another example of that. That’s why I love the club so much, I’m so loyal and devoted. They have supported my family immensely.”

Tom said his family is coping with Ahlia’s loss as well as they possibly could. “You never really know how you will cope until you go through it. Everyone is different. Thankfully we are such a close family we have been able to support each other.

“Unfortunately for Katie and Bryce no day will ever be the same for them. They’ve got to go through life without their young daughter by their side.”

There’s no doubt Ahlia is part of Tom’s inspiration playing cricket, particularly at this time of the year and the extremely popular senior skipper is certainly leading onfield by example. In last Saturday’s clash Leschenault remained unbeaten and went two wins clear at the top of the table with an impressive victory over Donnybrook. Chasing down 200 runs to win, Tom came in with his team at 4-96 and made a brilliant unbeaten 72 to guide his team home, a 48-run partnership with Jason Shine crucial.

Tom wasn’t making any rash predictions about winning the competition at this stage but you can bet his late niece Ahlia will certainly be cheering them on all the way.

Tom’s other sporting passion is horse-racing, in particular harness racing. He’s a former trainer driver and is currently involved in the horse racing media doing among other things, pre race and post race interviews.

Ahlia’s grandparents Jenny and Peter have caught the cricket bug. Jenny made her debut for the senior women’s cricket team recently and featured in a match-winning partnership while Peter plays Masters cricket.

From Tony Stretch and myself John Alexander at AbsolutelyFamous, our deepest sympathy to Katie, Bryce, Tom and Ahlia’s entire family and a huge thanks to Tom for our interview.

Listen/watch below

Interview & Words by John Alexander |. Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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