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Brave Emily loses battle with cancer

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A brave nine-year-old who touched the hearts of Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and supermodel Erin O'Connor with her battle against cancer has died.

Emily Bailes at WimbledonA brave nine-year-old who touched the hearts of Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and supermodel Erin O'Connor with her battle against cancer has died.

Little Emily Bailes, of Bloxwich, died on Saturday following a four-year battle with cancer.

Mum Amanda today paid tribute to her daughter and said she had been incredibly brave.

She said: "It is just terrible. She has lost her long fight but she was incredibly brave and inspired everyone who met her. We have had a lot of wellwishers from the area."

The funeral will take place on Monday at 1pm at All Saints Church, in High Street, Bloxwich. It will be followed by a burial at North Walsall Cemetery and then a service at the Village Hotel.

Only flowers from the family should be left but donations, to Acorns Children's Hospice, are welcome. Donations should be sent c/o Walsh Funeral Directors, 39 Park Road, Bloxwich, WS3 3SS. Wellwishers are welcome at the church.

Emily, a Lower Farm Primary pupil, leaves behind a sister, Jessica, as well as her dad Edward.

Little Emily rubbed shoulders with the stars during her illness, meeting both supermodel Erin O'Connor and tennis champion Maria Sharapova.

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The youngster joined Miss O'Connor, of Brownhills, at the Walsall Christmas lights switch on in 2006.

The supermodel took a shine to Emily and spent time with her on a one-to-one basis during the festive event. The pair posed for photographers together in Marks & Spencer in Park Street, while both families looked on, before heading down to help switch on the lights at The Bridge.

In 2002 the young tennis fan, then aged seven, walked on to Centre Court at Wimbledon and tossed the coin for the 2004 ladies singles final.

Maria Sharapova, touched by Emily's battle and bravery, sent her a bouquet of flowers with a message saying she could not wait for them to meet again.

A second trip to the world famous tennis courts was then arranged.

The brave youngsters was undergoing chemotherapy at Birmingham Children's Hospital every four weeks and her family had organised activities around bouts of illness, which were caused by the intensive treatment.

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