An invaluable charity was formed from the tragic loss of a Flintshire family. It went from a small group of friends and family in 2017, to national awareness campaigns, employment contributions from the capital and lunch with King Charles. We find out more about Giddo's Gift as the charity approaches its seven-year anniversary...

Just over seven years ago, Mandy Giddins, from Flint, came head-to-head with a heartbreak no parent should ever face. In April 2017, the Wrexham Maelor nurse, wife and mum said goodbye to her only son, Jordan, who was just 18-years-old.

Today, Mandy Giddins BEM, is the founder and director of Giddo's Gift, a charity that improves the lives of teenagers and young adults suffering from cancer. Mandy also advocates for research into childhood cancer treatments that are less aggressive and with less side-effects than the treatments Jordan received.

Ahead of the charity's seven-year anniversary this summer, Mandy reflects on Giddo's Gift's growth and journey, the people - those alive, and those lost - it celebrates, and the hope she holds that the charity's efforts will help fund research into kinder treatments for young cancer patients.


Mandy Giddins with son Jordan.

Mandy Giddins with son Jordan.


Jordan's battle for a normal life began when he was just 11-years-old, after being diagnosed with a rare blood disease, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH.) For the next 10 months, Jordan underwent gruelling medical treatment including chemotherapy, high dose steroids, and drugs to suppress his immune system. Following a period of remission in 2010, the disease returned, and Jordan's then 16-year-old sister, Beth, donated bone marrow in a bid to save her brother's life.

Jordan made a strong recovery in the following years, determined to return to the 'normal' life of a teenager and according to Mandy, "lived life to the full". But in 2015, Mandy recalls how "the bottom fell out of our world" when a scan revealed Jordan had a tennis ball-sized mass on his ribs. At age 17, he was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a type of childhood bone cancer, which doctors believe was due to all the treatments his young body underwent while battling HLH.

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It was at this painful moment in Jordan's journey that Mandy first witnessed the true power of the people and the gift of giving. Jordan required a gruelling nine-week course of Proton Beam Radiotherapy in the USA, which although funded by the NHS, still posed financial strains. Friends, family, and kind-hearted neighbours rallied around to raise more than £40,000 which would contribute towards the family's expenses in America and their living costs back home during three months of unpaid leave.

Mandy said: "We never expected it to take off and that people would be so kind. It was overwhelming. The people of Flint were fantastic."

But despite the rigorous treatment, the cancer was too aggressive and according to Mandy, "Jordan fought right till the end but just couldn't fight any more". On April 27, 2017, Jordan passed away peacefully in the arms of those he loved.

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Mandy said: "After Jordan died, I had two options: give up, or do something in his memory. We wanted to do something to ensure Jordan's generosity lived on, as he loved helping people and giving gifts - that was his thing.

"So, we started off giving gifts and wishes to bring a smile to the young people as they went through their cancer battle, and it is a battle. Jordan was always smiling. He smiled throughout everything."

Mandy also recalls how little support or financial funding there was for teenagers battling cancer. She said: "There was a lot of funding and support available for young children and then adults but we felt more was needed for teenagers and young adults in the area."

Since its establishment in May 2017, more than £350,000 has been raised to support others.


Jordan Giddins, whose memory lives on with Giddos Gift.

Jordan Giddins, whose memory lives on with Giddo's Gift.


In 2020, the charity began offering bereavement grants to families who had lost young adults or teenagers to cancer. Mandy said: "As a parent, when you've lost a child - especially to cancer - your world has fallen apart and the last thing on your mind is funeral costs.

"Our bereavement grants are there to alleviate some of the stress and strain on families during their time of need. Over the past four years, we've allocated £31,000 to 31 grieving families, as well as personalised memory boxes."

Giddo's Gift doesn't stop there. In 2022, the charity purchased a three-bedroom caravan on the popular Greenacres Porthmadog Holiday Park for use by bereaved families or by those battling cancer.

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Mandy said: "Greenacres holds a special place in our hearts, as we visited there a lot with Jordan during his illness. We found it peaceful. We hope other families can find peace here and make precious memories with their loved ones."

The charity also provides and replenishes Giddo's Goody Boxes, emergency overnight bags, and craft packs to six hospitals in its catchment area: Clatterbridge Hospital, the Countess of Chester, Wrexham Maelor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Alder Hey and Bangor Hospital.

Mandy said: "We work with a lot of support workers and social workers within the community and at local hospitals, so they can signpost young people to our services.

"We're working hard to get Giddo's Gift's name out there and make people aware of the support that's available but more importantly, that funding is needed to research a kinder and less aggressive treatment for children suffering from HLH.

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"Jordan received rigorous medical care, which was of course needed but we don't want any more teenagers to be at risk of developing a secondary illness, like Jordan did, as a result of HLH treatment. We need to raise awareness."

Mandy's mission to process requests for grants and wishes, apply for grants, and raise funds for the charity to continue its work has turned into a full-time job. She said: "None of us ever thought Giddo's Gift would go this big.

"This year has been remarkable in the sense of what we've already achieved - not just in terms grants and wishes but how our charity has grown from strength to strength and the national awareness it has raised. To date, we've granted 174 grants and wishes, have donated over £50,000 to childhood cancer research, and have supported 80 families to have a caravan break at Giddo's Gaff in Porthmadog.

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"Another big milestone was when I was informed I would be awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for voluntary and charitable services to young people. This is obviously an honour and I'm privileged to be listed but it does have a bittersweet feel to it simply because of how the charity came about."

A late Christmas gift landed in Mandy's inbox that was soon to up the ante for the charity, its trustees, and ambassadors, each of whom operate on a voluntary basis outside of working hours, in the form of a substantial grant.

Mandy said: "We rely mainly on donations from the community or National Lottery funding but last Christmas, we were told Giddo's Gift had been chosen to receive funds from the proceeds of a number of discretionary charitable trusts, of which Wilmington Trust SP Services (London) Limited are the share trustee.

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"A total of £27,000 was donated to us in memory of Tasha Pickard, who passed away on November 13, 2022 at the age of 29. She was a mother-of-two who lost her battle against Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour, a type of spinal cancer, and Giddo's Gift was there to support Tasha's family, who are also local to the area.

"As a thank you for our generosity, one of Tasha's family members who works at Wilmington Trust nominated us for the funds. We were told they didn't hesitate in putting our name forward, and that they're forever grateful to Jord and to the charity for how we supported them.

"This incredible grant has now enabled us to take on our first ever employee, raising the bar on what we can achieve. We were absolutely blown away. Not only by the amount but how the power of the local community has come full circle.

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"Giving begets giving, and we think this is the most wonderful way for Tasha's memory to live on. Two local heroes from Flint who lost their battle with cancer, have helped put smiles on so many young people's faces. We can't thank the family enough for their generosity."

A charity community development officer has now been appointed to support Mandy and volunteers with the increasing number of grants and wishes, as well as with strategic fundraising, events, and marketing.

Mandy said: "I can't put into words how much gratitude I have for everyone who has supported us from day one - from family and friends to the community, and especially to the health and social professionals across North Wales, Liverpool and Chester who helped Jordan during his battle.

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"Together, we can not only raise awareness of childhood cancer but we can all play a part in helping to find alternative and kinder treatments for young people living with cancer.

"Who knows where we'll be in seven years. We do know Jordan would be proud, and that we couldn't do it without everyone's support.

"Jord would have been 26 this year, and we ask everyone to join us in celebrating his life and legacy by wearing blue on Friday, June 28, and donating £1 to Giddo's Gift so we can keep supporting youngsters and raising awareness of childhood cancer."

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