England team encourage people to support hospice that helped mascot Ben Williams

The England football team has urged people to support a hospice that helped a young team mascot in the final days of his cancer battle.

Ben Williams had been hailed by captain Harry Kane as “an inspiration” while the little boy underwent radiotherapy to treat his tumour.

He was diagnosed with what his grandfather described as the most deadly form of brain cancer just after his fifth birthday in April last year.

He could not walk or talk before his treatment last summer but asked for the World Cup as his speech returned.

His paediatric radiographer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham shared a video of Ben receiving a replica World Cup trophy in July 2018, and Kane replied to the tweet, pledging to do everything they could to win their next match and “keep a smile on your face”.

Ben led the England team onto the pitch for a game last September.

His family, who said he died in May, are now fundraising for the Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust which they said had given them “superb help”.

Ben’s grandfather Hugh, writing on a gofundme page said: “When it came to the end, we do not know how we could have carried on without the immaculate professionalism, expertise and comfort that the Acorns staff provided.

“While everyone around Ben didn’t know what to do, they quietly and unobtrusively did, and made the unbearable a little less of a tragedy.”

He described Ben as a “funny, sharp, adventurous” and loving.

On Friday a tweet from the England account read: “Last September, we were proud to be led out by five-year-old Ben Williams.

“It’s with immense sadness that we’ve learned he recently passed away. Ben’s family are now raising money in his memory for @AcornsHospice – please support them if you can.”