HALESOWEN Carnival is ‘doing away with the monarchy’ this year – and instead opting to make a brave young boy the event’s guest of honour.

Each year, the Carnival traditionally crowns a king and queen, and often a princess too, but for this year’s edition next month, youngster Finley Hill will be afforded the regal treatment.

Finley, aged 7, from Belbroughton suffers from rare immune system disorder familial HLH, which results in damaged and enlarged organs, and

desperately needs a stem cell donor

to survive.

More than 1,000 potential donors have

already put themselves forward

in a bid to find a match for Finley and Carnival chairman Stuart Henley hopes more will sign up at the popular annual event.

He said: “This year we have made a change to crowning ‘Royals’. We are instead going to have an event VIP – Finley.

“Finley requires a stem cell transplant and we would like to ask all our event visitors and those following us on Facebook to take a swab to see if you are a match to save Finley.

“We are hoping to have [blood cancer charity] DKMS (https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now) in attendance and volunteers to take swabs on the day and raise much-needed awareness.”

Finley’s illness had befuddled medical experts until a gene test diagnosed HLH but the medication he is taking – steroids and immunosuppressants – will not keep him alive indefinitely.

However, only two per cent of people in the UK are on the stem cell register and the fact that Hagley Primary School pupil Finley has a rare tissue type makes finding a donor even harder.

Swabs are taken from inside the cheek to see if someone is a match – and if they are, cells are donated just like giving blood, although in a small number of cases a small operation is required.

Finley’s family, including parents Paul and Jo, and friends are also urging local business to hold stem cell donor drives at their workplaces.

Family friend Natalie Price said: “We are looking for companies who would be willing to host a small stand, for example in a staff room/meeting room etc, where we could give their employees the opportunity to take a quick cheek swab test and register for the opportunity to save a life.”

Any businesses interested in helping out can get in touch via the Facebook.com/FinnTheFabulous site.

Halesowen Carnival takes place on Saturday, July 6 at Highfield Park on Highfield Lane, from midday to 8pm, with free admission for all.

Among the activities on offer will be a fair, live music and dance, a free-to-enter dog show, a variety of stalls, food and drink, and more.