Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

Pippa Rea Friendship Day

Last year the Grade 5s at St Joseph’s had to give a speech to be considered to be part of the leadership team.  One of Pippa’s friends gave his speech on establishing an annual Pippa Rea Friendship Day to be held at the start of the year near her birthday.  This day would encourage and remind students how to be a good friend to each other – something that so evidently came naturally to Pippa and was recognised by everyone.


In the lead up to the day the teacher who was assisting Flynn commented how refreshing it was to start the year using “Friendship” as the focus instead of anti-bullying.

The children all wore yellow – those who had Team Pippa shirts wore them.


The grade 5 and 6 students visited the junior and middle school classrooms in the morning talking about friendship and running a “Friendship Workshop”.  They all learnt the “Friendship Pledge that Flynn had come up with in memory of Pippa.    James, Patrick and I popped into the Botanic Gardens over the road from the school to say hi to the senior students when they were enjoying a shared picnic in the glorious sunshine.

In the afternoon all the school “friends” moved into the hall.  590 children stood in a circle, joined hands and, led by Flynn, recited the Friendship Pledge.


In memory of Pippa, I promise to be a caring, thoughtful and fun friend.



Flynn and I then spoke to the school about friendship and Pippa.

Flynn has been working tirelessly on this project. Last night when he visited us I was so impressed with his speech that I asked his permission to share it on the blog.  He says that Pippa is his inspiration but what an inspiration Flynn is.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every school could take his model, adapt it to their environment and also hold a

Pippa Rea Friendship Day

creating  schools where kind, caring and thoughtful actions were on every student’s mind and where in Flynn’s words it is:



Hi my name is Flynn.

I am here to explain the Pippa Rea Friendship Day.

I came up with the idea and then spoke with Virginia, James and Patrick so we could all never forget, and always remember, what Pippa taught us.

Pippa Rea was a student here at St. Joes from Prep to grade 5 and is part of our grade 6 year level.

She is our friend.

I think I am the LUCKIEST boy in the world to call Pippa my friend. She was an amazing friend not just to me but to ALL  of us.

Pippa was SUPER kind,        SUPER generous      and       SUPER caring.

I am only 11 years old and she has taught me things that lots of adults don’t even know.

Friendship day is a good day to go over these.

Pippa is a girl and I am a boy. This did not matter. It taught me that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

I think you all should try and branch out and  YOU TOO might find someone just as amazing…give it a go!



Pippa taught me this!

I LOVED spending time with Pippa.

Pippa was the kindest girl.

Her actions and words were always kind and generous.

She was always thinking of others.



This was the hardest lesson at first. It was REALLY  hard seeing Pippa not being able to talk so well.

I soon learnt you don’t need words to be a friend.  PIPPA’s actions spoke for her.

Pippa always had a smile to give, her hands to hold, a wink or a thumbs up to give.

This taught me that a simple smile    or     thumbs up can change someone’s whole day or even life!

I know when I got one of Pippa’s smiles I felt so Happy.

I MISS Pippa’s smile the most.

Remember to share yours.




Pippa made the most of everyday and opportunity.

Pippa was a happy positive person.

Pippa showed us all this at sports day last year…she is a GUN at sports!

We should all try and give 100% effort and try our best every day and never give up.

Pippa has made me try SO much harder especially at maths.

Man she was SMART!

I loved when I was her buddy in maths. It was the only time I went well because she had all the answers!!

Pippa loved St Joes and her friends.

We are all lucky because when we go to St. Joes, we are all one friendship group. We should all look out for one another and help each other.

At St Joes there is NO room for unkind words OR actions.

It is NEVER ok to be unkind.

I would like everyone to think how you could be a better friend.

I hope we all have a happy year of friendship in 2016.



Let’s all now wish Pippa a happy 12th birthday with 12 big claps.

Thank you for your time.


Flynn, Pippa would have loved today. She would have relished teaching the younger students about friendship and sharing the day with you and all her friends.  I know that she is watching over you and is so proud of what you achieved today in her honour.

What a truly great friend you are!



A Selfless Act

When we toured the Royal Children’s Hospital Tissue Bank to learn more about what our donation meant, I discovered that the laboratory is funded 100% philanthropically via the efforts and fundraising of an organisation called CIKA – Cancer In Kids @RCH.

As a parent it’s my responsibility to care for my children emotionally, physically and financially. Simply because Pippa has passed I don’t believe I owe her any less.  Thus, I asked the question whether or not I could set up a direct financial line to our donation?  I have never considered that tumour as being a part of Pippa, but I feel that the donation of the tumour and financially supporting (in whatever way I can) that donation is something that I need to do.  Luckily, I asked Pippa’s oncologist who would never dream of saying anything is too difficult or restricted by red tape.

Across subsequent visits, it became clearly apparent how precious our gift (donation) was. The tissue bank has only been collecting since April 2014. Since then of the nearly 200 donations from biopsies, surgeries and unfortunately, deaths, only 4 donations have resulted in priceless growth of cell lines. Ours is one of those four. Our cell line has been grown and is being sent off around the world for research. DIPG research is not only valuable for future children of this most horrific and cruel cancer, but due to nothing being known about it and its complexity, knowledge and research on DIPG has the ability to unlock answers across all tumours.

James, Patrick and I made the first donation to CIKA (Pippa’s Trust) followed by a group of local ladies who specifically wanted to donate to research directly related to Pippa.  I was pleased to be able to offer this direct ability.   Another donation has now also been made via the Robert Connor Dawes (Research, Care and Development) Foundation and, in particular, a selfless young lady, Hayley White, who is currently undergoing her own battle with brain cancer.  Hayley could have used this money for herself, but instead wanted to donate it to research related to RCH and Pippa. Rather than rewrite words already written, I will instead use those of RCDFoudation………

Today we donated $20,000 to support RCH’s tissue tumour bank in memory of Pippa Rea. That’s special in its own right but the story behind our donation makes it extra special. Several months ago 24yo Hayley White contacted Liz. She had recently been diagnosed with a stage 4 GBM brain tumour. Her friends & family were eager to show their support and proposed a fundraiser. Hayley didn’t want the money for herself but to help research into children’s brain tumours. A friend suggested our charity as she had done Connor’s Run. Hayley mentioned she was from Warnambool area, when she heard about Pippa Rea (also from Warnambool who lost her life at 11 to DIPG brain cancer) she was clear she wanted any $$ raised to support RCH research efforts. Over $17,000 was raised for Hayley! In keeping with Hayley’s wishes we consulted Virginia, Pippa’s mum. Pippa’s tumour tissue & cell line is at RCH/Murdoch Research Tissue Bank to be used in research at RCH & shared globally. This is rare & vitally important. So today Hayley, Virginia & Liz made the donation to RCH Tissue Bank. We rounded up to include other generous donations made by the Warnambool community in memory of Pippa. We are all genuinely touched by Hayley’s selfless, generous, big hearted nature…trying to do some good in the face of something so cruel. Today felt so v special, thank you Hayley.

Thank you Hayley (and to others who have fundraised and given money to RCDF in memory of Pippa).  Thank you also to Liz Dawes and the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation for seeing this as another worthy way they can contribute to research into brain cancer. Whilst not conventional, what I have set up means that fundraising or donating money to research in Pippa’s memory is possible and will go to the RCH Tissue Bank (DIPG326) CIKA (Pippa’s Trust) and to be used specifically on research and needs directly related to our donation.  As Pippa’s mum, I will continue to add to this regularly.


Public Notice of Thanks

On Saturday I placed a public notice in the local paper extending our personal thanks to the community.  It would be remiss of me not to extend that thanks further to friends and family across Victoria, Australia and around the world.  Thus, in continuing to use this blog as a form of communication:

Pippa Rea Thank You

I feel like I will be numb forever and I feel like I will always be looking around for her or wanting to tell her something, hold her hand, laugh, sing……..waiting for her to run into the room and give me a big cuddle.  Sometimes I even think (or perhaps wish) the beautiful photos that she ensured surrounded me before she went would come to life.  It’s a hole that will always be with me and will never be filled but I am eternally grateful to everyone for their support.

True to Pippa and her love of music, words to another song from her playlist come to mind…….

At the end of the day some you win, some you don’t,

So I’m glad that I’m here with some friends that I know,

Always there with a smile saying, “You’re not alone”.

My darling little girl…………



A Magical Day for a Magical Girl

Pippa had the best birthday awaking to the balloon filled house with two enormous boxes containing James & Patrick’s presents.  Patrick’s she had to bash her way into to reveal a magic kit for Pippa and him to do tricks together and a photo of the school kids on the oval from the helicopter.  James’ gift had to be driven out of the box – a remote control car that Pippa can sit in her chair and whizz around the lounge room.  Pippa uses her hand to accelerate forward and backward and James steers. Later it was modified and turned into a weapon of mass balloon destruction!  Or perhaps I should call it an ankle terrorising beast!  Of course it was no surprise that both boys had included thoughtfully written cards with their gifts.

Pippa had her ears pierced and now wears the prettiest little blue earrings.  Throughout the day our door was a constant stream of deliveries – each one bringing smiles and joy – balloons in all shapes and sizes, flowers, gifts, mail.  On a hot day one poor florist came back at least 3 times!

We held her party at the cinema where all her friends were greeted by and treated to some laughter from Bubbles the Clown.  Everyone enjoyed watching a few funny little pixar animations followed by a comedy of errors  birthday party episode of Modern Family, “Fizbo”. We all marvelled at the magical illusions of Michael the Magician and anyone who asks Pippa will know that she put a yellow scarf into his magic hat but out came a $50 note!  Finally, she had a birthday cake. Not a real cake though, one that James threw into Patrick’s face!  Patrick had no idea and it literally knocked him for six!  The party finished with exactly what Pippa wanted – Ice Cream with Mr Whippy waiting outside and everyone having had a great time.

Pippa came home and opened all her presents reading every single card.   Today she was reading every word written on every card that was made by every one of the classrooms at school.  She opened more cards and gifts that she didn’t get to last night and went through all the text and blog messages.

Pippa already knows she is loved by so many people far and wide – what a great feeling that is!  This birthday has not only created another magical memory, but brought that love to life once again.  Every gift she received was perfect and obviously so thoughtfully chosen for her.  I wanted to share a framed poem written by one of her friends……

Happy birthday, my great friend,

Amazing times, we like to spend.

Fun and happiness, common for us,

A friendship that will never rust.

My special friend that I hold dear,

I always wish to have you near.

We stay together, like bees to honey,

a friendship worth, much more than money.

Happy birthday my great friend,

I’m so excited to attend.

Your thoughts are always clear, in my mind,

Both understanding we always find.

Pippa, I’m glad your birthday has come,

So be very proud of all you have done.

Now this poem is coming to an end, I just wanna

let you know you are such an

inspiring friend.


We have now had 4 fantastic days of Pippa being really great – lots of life about her, sparkle in her eyes, happy, cheeky and her “I can do it myself attitude” shining.  It certainly must be birthday magic!

Thank you to everyone who helped make Pippa’s 11th Birthday so very Magical.

happy birthday


Flight of Joy

Pippa and I have talked this week about how happiness can come from bringing joy to others – at Christmas time this is an easy discussion to illustrate and have with Pippa – she has been busy ‘bagging & tagging’ some little gifts this week to help bring a little joy to her classmates, friends and family.
Yesterday joy was brought to Pippa. A very kind and generous supporter of the RCD Fund offered to fly Liz & Celia down for lunch and a visit. Wow! The result of that was Pippa got to fly in a helicopter and Liz and Celia got to have lunch at our place and meet Nibbles in the flesh, or rather, fur!
The helicopter ride was put on her happy list the night before along with going to school and seeing Jeff’s husky. We hadn’t really told anyone what was happening but as Pippa’s class wondered why we were leaving school at 10.30 instead of our usual 11.30 I asked her if she wanted to let them know.  I am so glad we did!

We went home for Pippa to have a quick rest before Liz and Celia arrived.  They were early – how I wish it only took me 60 minutes to get from Melbourne to Warrnambool!  The excitement intensified as we spotted the helicopter buzzing ahead of us as we were driving down to the beach – they didn’t have to wait for traffic lights!  Special arrangements had been made and the helicopter landed on a grassed area along the foreshore.  Pippa, Liz and I went up first and did a flight along the coast and river before turning around to do a fly over Pippa’s school.  Pippa was excited.  From the distance she could see everyone gathered on the oval.  She eagerly gave directions to Mark, “the blue patch over there on the grass is all my school friends!”  What she saw was not only her whole school waving, but one class lying down spelling out her name!  Very clever,  very thoughtful and completely lifting the bar on the excitement level.  We could see everyone waving and jumping around watching us as we flew by.  She was thrilled and we looped around a second time for another look at her name.  If only we had a horn to toot!!!

A few friends dropped over briefly after school which was terrific – it meant that not only could Pippa relive the excitement of the flight, but she also heard about how much her school mates enjoyed being a part of it as well.  They looked at photos and one friend successfully found himself in one of my photos – that in itself was fun.  We woke up this morning and she again relived the moment via the front page of the newspaper sitting up in bed reading the article.

Feel Good Front Page Article

Feel Good Front Page Article

It was not so much a wish of Pippa’s that was granted; it was simply the extraordinary generosity of a man who didn’t even know us to fly Liz from Melbourne and do something memorable for a little girl.   The added bonus of her thoughtful school community was the icing on the cake making it even more special and personal.  Pippa insisted that Liz be in the helicopter with her and me – I am so glad Liz was there to witness Pippa’s reaction as we flew over her school.

When I told Patrick and James that Liz and Celia were flying down to see Pippa, the confused ‘why’ that often comes from teenage boys was answered with, “Why not?  Some people get to live for 80 years and still don’t get to fly in a helicopter so in Pippa’s situation why shouldn’t she fly in a helicopter?”

As for what was on our Happy List for today……..it was going to the movies to watch Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Such a lovely and fun movie to watch.  Perfect for today.


A Story of a Little Girl and some Very Big Boys

The Warrnambool Seaside Basketball Tournament was held on the weekend.  Some friends had organised a Milkshake and Pancake stand to help raise money to send their team to the Nationals in Canberra…….. A little girl decided she would help sell milkshakes and pancakes and sat tirelessly for hours on Saturday doing a very good job of taking orders and money.

Pippa and Andy

Pippa and Andy

Eventually her mum suggested she have a break and sit down for a bit and watch a basketball game.  She was torn, but she agreed only on the condition that she could return to her post.  Off she went to watch another team of friends – the under 16 boys teams. On returning to her post the selling area seemed full of the big u18s boys taking their turn at duty.  No, where there is a will there is a way and there was still room for the little girl to get in there and help!  Which of course leaded to lots of cheeky fun with the big boys.

Anyone for a Milkshake?

Anyone for a Milkshake?

When it was time for their next game, one of the big boys suggested that the little girl should come with them and sit on the bench.  That was the start of an incredible bond………

Walk with me Pippa

Walk with me Pippa

The little girl sat on the big boys bench for every game.  On the second day of the tournament, the little girl  didn’t sell any milkshakes, she spent every minute being part of the team on and off the court.  She sat on the bench and received her quota of pats on the back and rubs on the head as the big boys were subbed on and off the bench alongside her.  She handed out the lollies in the breaks.  In the huddles if she found herself on the outside a big arm would come from somewhere and pull the little girl into the centre.  She put her little hand in with their big ones for the motivational chant before they would run onto court.  In between matches she just ‘hung’ with the big boys and had fun.

The big boys won their under 18s grand final and the little girl was thanked for the part she played in their team and received her trophy.  The little girl is very proud of her trophy and it goes everywhere with her.

The mums and dads were proud of their big boys and the way they included the little girl with such kindness and warmth.  The little girl’s mum’s heart was touched and she is very grateful to the big boys knowing that they made a beautiful and selfless impact on the little girl.  It goes to show that you don’t have to be a famous sports person to be looked up to.  On the weekend, The Warrnambool Seahawks had an under 18s team of heroes and the little girl spent the weekend admiring the big boys and being part of their basketball team.  She was thrilled.

Slam Dunk....with a bit of help

Slam Dunk….with a bit of help


%d bloggers like this: