Young cancer sufferers could go on to live long, happy lives thanks to a £37,000 Christmas gift to a pioneering charity.

The Sutton Guardian's parent company Newsquest has given the charity Christopher's Smile, which aims to improve treatment for childhood cancers so that sufferers not only survive but go on to have a good quality of life, £37,000 - the biggest grant the charity has received.

The money is being used to fund a high-tech piece of equipment and a scientist at the Institute of Cancer Research based at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Belmont.

Christopher's Smile was set up in 2008 by Karen and Kevin Capel after their son Christopher, 5, died from an aggressive brain tumour.

Mr and Mrs Capel saw Christopher suffer with his illness and from the effects of his treatment. After his death they decided to work to stop other families from going through what they went through.

Mrs Capel said: "It is the largest single grant we have received and means a huge amount to us. We are extremely grateful to The Gannett Foundation [the charitable arm of Newsquest] for making this award.

"The research we're funding is into targeted treatment. Some of the treatments have hideous side effects and it puts parents in a dilemma as to what is the best way forward.

"A child can survive but there could be lifelong side effects from treatments like chemotherapy and we want to move away from that to more targeted treatments so children can not only survive but have long, happy lives."

The money will fund a specially designed piece of research equipment and pay for a paediatric molecular pathologist. The equipment and the scientist will be based at the Institute of Cancer Research in Cotswold Road.

Andy Pearson, professor of paediatric oncology at the institute, said: "We remain extremely grateful to Christopher’s Smile for their generous support of our Childhood Cancer research programme. It is through their support that we are able to continue to make the discoveries that defeat cancer. We are dedicated to trying to cure children who currently die from their disease.

Thanks to Christopher’s Smile, we feel confident that our research will lead to better treatments which could potentially save more lives and spare other children the risk of serious side-effects."