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Daily Record
Daily Record
Jennifer Hyland

Batgirl star Leslie Grace pays tribute to Glasgow boy, 4, who died from a rare form of cancer

Batgirl star Leslie Grace has paid tribute to a wee boy she met while filming in Glasgow after he lost his battle with cancer. The actress had formed a bond with Finlay Mckechnie, four, when he arrived on set dressed as his favourite superhero, Batman.

DC’s £75million movie will never be released, but we can reveal the heartbreaking story of how the star touched the life of her young fan while filming in the city. After his death last month to hepatoblastoma, a type of liver cancer, the 27-year-old actor told how she was devasted at his loss and dedicated a song to him on social media.

Finlay’s family, from Ruchill in Glasgow, have told how the star made Finlay feel like a superhero.

Dad Harry, 47, told the Sunday Mail: “It was devastating when we were told Finlay had cancer but we remained positive and made the most of every day, making all the memories with him we could. Finlay was absolutely mad about superheroes and one of his favourites was Batman.

"When he was invited on to a real movie set and got to meet Batgirl, it meant the world to him and us. Finlay turned up on set dressed as Batman and, while we were there, not a single member of cast or crew walked past him without saying, ‘Hi,’ giving him a high five or a fist bump.

“He spent 25 minutes speaking to Batgirl and she gave him a lovely book with a personalised message written inside, which said he was a true superhero. That day they made him feel like a real superhero and it was a day his mum and I will never forget.”

Finlay was rushed to hospital in March 2021 after his parents discovered a lump in his abdomen. An ultrasound revealed the then three-year-old had liver cancer.

Hepatoblastoma affects about one in a million people and is most common in children under three. It usually presents as an abdominal mass causing pain and discomfort. Survival rates have reached about 80-90 per cent but it depends upon the stage of the cancer at diagnosis.

Finlay underwent an operation to have the tumour removed, but weeks later doctors broke the news to his devastated parents that his cancer had returned and had spread to his lungs.

Earlier this year, he was taken to the set in Glasgow where a large part of the film was shot as it doubled up as Gotham City. But it was revealed earlier this month that movie bosses have decided not to release the £75million film after test screenings were poorly received.

On set, Finlay was delighted to meet Batgirl, played by Leslie, and also chatted with the film’s directors Fallah Bilal and Adil El Arbi.

Harry said: “We didn’t reach out to tell the cast or crew that Finlay has passed away. I don’t know who told them but I know that when they were told, everyone on set stopped what they were doing. Everyone remembered the little Batman. The tributes paid by Leslie Grace and everyone were very touching.”

After being told of his death, Leslie posted a heartfelt message on Instagram which read: “Thank you for the light you brought into our lives, little Finlay. We’ll never forget you.”

The singer and actress also shared a video of her singing A Song for You by Donny Hathaway with her 1.2million followers in tribute to him.

Director Adil also posted: “Heartbroken. Little brother Finlay was a cancer patient who visited the set of Batgirl with his family. He was a true superhero and I pray for him and his family. Rest in peace, sweet soul.”

Finlay on the set of Batgirl with (L-R) director Bilall Fallah, brother Dylan, dad Harry, director Adil El Arbi and mum Suzanne (Instagram: Adil El Arbi)

Harry, a lorry driver, added: “You can never prepare yourself to hear that your child has cancer. We tried to remain positive and upbeat for his sake. We were hopeful for the future but then in February, after a follow-up MRI, the doctors sat us down and told us the cancer was regrowing and had spread.

“You just don’t ever think the unimaginable will happen. You just live in hope someone will just one day offer you a cure. We refused to believe what the future could hold for him and we made sure we did everything possible to make every day count.

“We went on days out, holidays, took a trip to Legoland – but the day we got invited onto the Batgirl set was a massive highlight for him. Through everything, Finlay was so brave, you would never have even known he was ill. He was full of fun, mischief and laughter. He was an amazing little boy who just loved life.”

Finlay passed away last month with his parents by his side.

Harry said: “It was just heartbreaking. He had his whole little life ahead of him. I was his dad – if he fell or was upset, I could always fix him. But it breaks my heart that he fought so hard but in the end no one could save him. We just told him how special he was and how we loved him.”

Mum Suzanne, 44, added: “He was and will always be our superhero. His loss will never leave us. The memory of how special he was and what he meant to his family will live on with us forever.”

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