THEY were determined to help other sick children after their seven-year-old son lost his brave fight against cancer.

The parents of Joshua Scarlett-Abbott, Jonathan and Fiona, wanted to raise £75,000 to buy a specialist paediatric ambulance for critically-ill children from all over the country.

Now they are within only £10,000 of their target, after getting a £4,800 boost from a York champion fundraiser.

Linda Rider, of Hamilton Drive, Acomb, threw herself into fundraising for the Joshua Scarlett-Abbott ECMO Appeal after reading in the Evening Press about his parents' appeal.

Linda organised a couple of 60s bops at New Earswick Folk Hall, street collections in Acomb and placed collection tins at Karen's hairdressers, in Green Lane, and Wards newsagents, in York Road, Acomb. She also helped sell special cookbooks featuring recipes by celebrity chefs such as Gary Rhodes and Rick Stein.

"It's a fantastic achievement for one person," said Jonathan, formerly of Langton, near Malton, but now of York.

"This has boosted our total to £65,000 - so we only have a short distance to go until we reach our target."

He said the special ambulance would allow for the rapid transfer of critically-ill children from all over the country to lifesaving medical services, which had saved the life of Joshua at the start of his illness.

The vehicle will contain a portable ECMO (extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation) system, which oxygenates blood outside the body, allowing the lungs to rest and heal from infection.

Joshua's life was initially saved in 2001 when he was given ECMO at a hospital in Leicester, but he had to be airlifted there by RAF Sea King helicopter because of a lack of paediatric ambulances offering the system.

Although Joshua died in October 2002 from non-Hodgkin's T-cell anaplastic lymphoma, the family was able to spend precious extra months with him, and launched a determined bid to buy a specialist ECMO paediatric ambulance to benefit other children.

Jonathan said he hoped the target could be reached by the end of the year, perhaps through holding a golf day.

"It would be wonderful if we could raise it by the fourth anniversary of his death," he said. The cookbook is available from shops including WH Smith, in Coney Street, York, and online by going to www.joshuasappeal.

Updated: 10:47 Tuesday, February 14, 2006