ROBOTS that help children isolated by cancer keep in touch with friends and classmates have now been given out to eight children in Worcestershire.

The robots – also known as AV1 avatars – allow the poorly youngsters to talk to their friends and the outside world while they are receiving treatment at home or in hospital.

The project is the work of the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust, which marks its fifth anniversary this week.

Dr Kelly said: “The response to these wonderful robots has been amazing.

“For these isolated children, they are the only way to contact the outside world whilst they are in hospital.

“To date, we have supported eight children with this project.”

The charity decided to fund the robots after hearing about them from the family of Ben Crowther, a Tamworth boy who died from cancer in 2018 at the age of seven.

Dr Kelly said: “Ben was already involved with the robots. His school had fundraised and his family had raised money to rent one for a short time.

“Ben did sadly pass away but even when he was poorly it was what gave him happiness seeing his friends.

“It gave us that idea that even children that could not get into the classroom again, it could give them pleasure. It allows them social interactions – I think they are even more important than the academic side of it.”

Worcester schoolboy Oscar Saxelby-Lee was left isolated from his school friends when he was diagnosed with leukaemia at the end of his first term at primary school in 2018.

The GKCCT funded a robot that allowed Oscar to keep in touch with classmates at his school Pitmaston Primary, in St John’s, while he was receiving treatment in hospital.

Dr Kelly said: “By giving isolated children this ‘window’ to their friends and the outside world, we can help them to bridge the gap.”