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Raise a glass to one boy’s courage and lucky bubbly

Happy ending: Peter Blandford with Christian (right) and another of his sons PICTURE: PA

THE father of a boy who suffered two bouts of cancer has told how a bottle of champagne came to symbolise a battle against the odds.

The 1990 Bollinger had been kept by Peter Blandford to be opened when his son Christian reached five years in remission — but it was taken in a burglary.

Christian was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with a clear cell sarcoma of the kidney — a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer — in 2005.

After a year, he was given the all-clear, but relapsed in November 2006 when the cancer spread to a leg bone. With a couple of years to go before his five-year goal, thieves snatched the champagne from the family’s home in Sevenoaks, Kent.

Mr Blandford, 48, said: ‘It was a bottle someone had given me and we never thought we’d open it.’

In a Facebook post he revealed the burglars stole photography gear, jewellery and wine — including the Bollinger.

The family thought they would never see it again until until an officer who knew of the case recovered the bottle from a fridge in south-east London while on a separate investigation. ‘The suspects’ finger prints matched ones taken from our property and the guys were charged and proven guilty a few months later,’ Mr Blandford said. ‘It was kind of amusing, it was pretty much the only thing that came back.’

In September 2012, Christian reached five years in remission against odds of 20 to one, and the bottle was opened.

‘It seemed like the bottle for a while was bringing bad luck — actually, it turned out to bring some good luck,’ said Peter. ‘It’s a symbol of how life can turn around from a very dark period, when it looks like there’s no good outcome, and turn out for the best.’

Christian is now 15 and plays the piano and writes his own computer games which receive millions of views online.

The Christian Blandford Fund set up in his name last year raised £100,000 to help renovate children’s wards at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London. His father said: ‘For his 18th birthday there will definitely be a glass of champagne raised.’