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Tragic school pal who inspired Kate to raise a fortune; EXCLUSIVE SHE HEADS CHARITY FOR CANCER FRIEND.

Byline: BY VICTORIA WARD

THE untimely death of an old schoolfriend has inspired Kate Middleton's most ambitious charity project yet.

Tom Waley-Cohen, who was at boarding school with Kate and became friends with princes William and Harry, died aged 20 after a long battle against bone cancer.

Kate, 26, was devastated when Tom died in July 2004. Since then she has been involved behind the scenes supporting his family's pounds 1million fund - raising campaign for a surgical ward at Oxford Children's Hospital named after him.

Now Kate is fronting the biggest fundraiser yet - a roller disco tonight in aid of Tom'sWard and a charity called Place2Be, which provides counselling to schoolchildren in need.

Tom's brother Sam, 26, who is Kate's co-organiser, said: "We wanted to raise money but not with some thing too formal.

"Because it is in aid of a children's ward we thought it should be something fun. It's a nice way of remembering Tom."

Sam said that Kate made it clear from the start of the project that she wanted to be involved in the event, which takes place at the Renaissance Rooms in Vauxhall, South London. He added: "She and Tom were at school together. They were good friends.

"It is the first time she has been actively involved but she has supported us behind the scenes.

"When we came up with this, she was the obvious person to help.

"Kate has been fantastic in using her contacts to get people along - she has persuaded loads of people to commit. Her involvement has obviously raised the profile."

Tom suffered from Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer which mainly affects boys.

66 per cent

Five year survival rate for Ewing's sarcoma. Fewer than 30 UK children a year contract it.

Kate has been fantastic in using her contacts ... she's been really good and very pro-active

BROTHER SAM

CAPTION(S):

COURAGE Tom fought a long battle against bone cancer. He died aged 20 in July 2004; CASH HELP Campaigning Kate Middleton; PAL Tom Waley-Cohen
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2008
Words:337
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