New gaming van to bring joy to children with cancer

The family of an Ipswich girl who has overcome cancer offers treatment superheroes the chance to use their new game bus for free.

The PayerZone Party Van is a converted game console van that can be rented for birthday parties, but owners Sarah Old and Matthew Lewis want to offer it free to kids undergoing cancer treatment.

Their daughter, Amelia, now four, was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer in November 2019 after her parents discovered an unusual lump on her side and she was treated at Addenbrooke’s in the months that followed.

The duo said: “We wanted to do something that we can give back to other people who have been in similar situations to ourselves.

“We remember we were in Addenbrookes and there were kids and they just had their games.

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“It was a way for them to connect with their friends.”

The van has seven TV screens, four Xboxes, two PS4s, a PS5, Nintendo Switches and an Oculus VR headset.

Parties can accommodate up to 12 children and last 90 minutes.

Amelia Lewis and her siblings enjoy their parents’ new business – Credit: Sarah Old

Miss Old explained where the new business idea came from, saying, “My son has an interest in gaming and Matt has experience in vans, so we kind of brought the two together.”

Amelia Lewis’s mother Sarah Old said she wanted to give back after the help the family received – Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

She said that now that the van is party-ready, they plan to host Superhero Sessions for children undergoing treatment as a way to give back to the community that stood by them through their darkest days.

“As we went through what we were going through, so many people had offered us things; mini-breaks, even people we didn’t know running errands,” Miss Old said.

“Every kind message to us continued to give us that strength and positivity you need to keep going.

“We’ve seen how important that was for families and if we can provide something that can give that child a positive day and a little fun.”

Inside the Playerzone van with some game systems for youngsters to play with – Credit: Sarah Old

Knowing how circumstances can change drastically in a very short time when you have a sick child, the family knows to change Superhero bookings at the last minute.

“You have to look at it day by day,” said Miss Old. “Things can change very quickly.”

Amelia Lewis looking forward to starting school in September – Credit: Sarah Old

Amelia is now preparing to go to school,

“It’s a huge milestone for Amelia and at some point all those milestones got clouded,” said Miss Old.

“She does all the good things and normal things.”

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