A COURAGEOUS Fordingbridge boy who lost his battle with a rare form of cancer has been remembered for his "love of life" and "infectious smile".

Family, friends and classmates filled a marquee set up at Fordingbridge Recreation Ground on Monday to celebrate Daniel West's life.

The nine-year-old, who had been battling the disease since his diagnosis in August 2014, died on November 20.

He had undergone intensive chemotherapy treatments at the Piam Brown Ward at Southampton General Hospital, and also received treatment at Salisbury District Hospital.

His mum Kayte said: "Daniel was full of energy and had a real zest for life; he put his best into everything he did. He was the life and soul of the party."

She says she will always remember his huge blue eyes and his beaming smile.

"His determination in fighting his illness was incredible," she said. "And throughout the whole of his journey he maintained his sense of humour and his love of life."

From the age of six, Daniel was a member of 1st Fordingbridge Scout Group starting as a Beaver and then becoming a Cub.

In April, he was recognised for his courage and bravery and was one of only nine young people to be presented with the country's rare scouting award - the medal for Meritorious Conduct.

A letter sent by Chief Scout Bear Grylls at the time said: “Your story is an inspiration to so many and personifies all that is best about scouting.

“You are a shining example and your contribution and devotion to scouting is such an inspiration to me and many others, you should be rightly proud.”

Group Scout leader Tim Reed said: "He was known to all of the youngsters and adults within the group for his enthusiasm and commitment to scouting. His infectious smile, fun sense of humour and energy will be sorely missed by us all."

Three days after receiving his scouting medal, Daniel received a terminal diagnosis, and from June until early November was taking part in a medical trial at the Royal Marsden Hospital, which the family says gave them "time together".

"It didn't matter whichever hospital we were in, the nursing staff and the quality of care from all the doctors was just fantastic. In a lot of ways they became part of our extended family," said Kayte.

Despite 15-months of fighting the condition, his health deteriorated and he spent his final weeks at home with his family.

"Right to the end he fought hard, but passed away very peacefully in his sleep," said Kayte.

Daniel was passionate about sport and played rugby for Fordingbridge RFC Minis. He also enjoyed plenty of action-packed adventures — from firefighting training to "tickling a rhino" while being a zookeeper for the day. He also had a creative spark for Lego and Minecraft.

Daniel was a pupil at Fordingbridge Junior School and inspired his fellow classmates to raise more than £4,200 for the Piam Brown Ward by holding a welly walk.

Kayte said: "All the children and staff just saw him as Dan; they looked past the illness. Even though he was in and out of school, he was always keen to be there, and when he was there, he always did his best."

Headteacher Kim Robertson added: "Daniel's short life was an inspiration to all the children and staff at Fordingbridge Junior School. He loved life and always saw the positive in every situation. 
"His resilience, determination and love of school was admired by all. He always came to school with a cheeky smile and a glint in his eye. He will be sorely missed and never forgotten." 

The family has also been supported by Fordingbridge Fire Station where Daniel's dad Mark has been a firefighter for 34 years. Daniel inspired the station's firefighters to take part in a sponsored ladder climb where they raised thousands of pounds for the Piam Brown Ward.

Watch manager Pete White said: “It was a pleasure to have Daniel as part of the fire station family that exists at Fordingbridge and we will always remember him with deep fondness and a smile.”

Firefighters from the station and representatives from 1st Fordingbridge Scouts stood to attention for a special guard of honour on Monday. A fire engine also formed part of the funeral procession.

The family thanked all the hospital staff and Julia's House staff that looked after them, and also Sandy Wills and Andrea Forshaw for organising the celebration tea which followed Daniel's memorial service.

Donations in Daniel's memory are being collected for Julia's House and The Stars Appeal Sarum Ward.