Day 31: Mission accomplishedMark Williams arrived back in triumph right on schedule at 4 pm on June 27,having achieved his target. He had set out on May 28 to cycle 3100 miles in 31 days, visiting all 39 of the old English counties, plus London, in memory of his school friend, Laurie. It sounded practically impossible. He's battled with thumping showers, flash floods, punctures, unseasonal cold, London traffic, a stomach upset, aching joints, a malfunctioning phone, a broken saddle, and the steepest hills he's ever seen in his life. But nothing was going to stop him. He started his ride on the Welsh border, steered west all the way up to Scotland; then travelled down the east coast, in and out of London and down to the cliffs of Dover. He's visited 20 cathedrals, touched the north, south, east and westernmost points of the country, and climbed Scafell Pike (on foot). During the final week he took in the whole of the south coast as far as Land's End, then headed north east again, through Somerset and Devon to Bath, Oxford, Gloucester and Hereford. On the final day he met up with a group of other school friends of Laurie's at Hereford Cathedral, and together they cycled to Fairfield High School and then on to Laurie's home in the Golden Valley. . Mark set out to raise £10,000 for Laurie's fund, for Teenage Cancer Trust.. . To read Mark's blog, go to http://counties4cancer.co.uk/. To sponsor the ride, please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Cycling-Engels-England.
Ruth's birthday party, September 2016Our great friend Ruth Watkins, mother of Laurie's great friend Arthur, chose to dedicate her 60th birthday to Laurie's fund. Duke's Farm was hopping that night, with a huge crowd of friends, live music, dancing and home-cooked food: and a wonderful time was had. More than £700 has been donated so far. Many many thanks.
Youth for Youth concert, July 2016On a fine summer’s evening in Craswall church, high up in the Herefordshire hills, a group of young people gave a concert in memory of Laurie. The programme was a delightful mix of classical, folk and modern music, as well as newly-written songs. Robin Freeland, who played piano and viola, made the concert happen, with the help of Joyce Hvass, a well known figure in the musical life of the Golden Valley. Raye Harvey played the violin, India George the cello, and Lyndon Etough-Smith (who was Laurie’s music teacher in secondary school) played violin, clarinet and piano. Amy Lonsdale performed her own songs. The audience was hugely impressed by the quality of the performances; and we were all moved by this touching tribute to Laurie. £250 was raised for Teenage Cancer Trust.
Uncle Richard's birthdayLaurie's Uncle Richard had a significant birthday in November, and at his request many of his friends and colleagues have made generous donations to Laurie's fund.
George's Tough MudderGeorge Wood-Cole (on the left in the photo), a school friend of Laurie's, took part in a Tough Mudder challenge in May. George is a keen sportsman, and plays for his local cricket and football teams in Herefordshire. He was in training for the Tough Mudder for several months; and although struggling with knee trouble at the time, he completed the challenge in three hours, raising far more money than he'd expected - over £700.
Great Uncle Mervyn's birthdayIn May Laurie's great uncle, Mervyn Lesser, celebrated his 90th birthday, and many of his guests generously marked the occasion with donations to Laurie's fund.
Jeanne and Rachel's weddingOn Easter Sunday 2015 Laurie's cousin Rachel Engel married Jeanne Dippenaar in London; and they very kindly asked their guests to make donations to Laurie's fund.
Recent Events:In autumn 2015 we held an open weekend in our restored cider mill, worked by a horse for the second time in a hundred years. Pye the stallion did most of the hard work, helped by his owners Wendy and John Lloyd, and Vika. Two hundred and fifty litres of Fair Oak cider were made, and £200 was taken in donations.
Vika's RideIn 2013 Laurie’s sister Vika successfully completed her epic birthday ride across Wales "from the Bay to Hay", raising £25,000 for the fund. The story is here...
- Vika's uncle, Tony Engel, asked for donations to the Fund on his 70th birthday and raised £1500.
- Our friend Steve Barnett asked for donations to the Fund on his 60th birthday.
- Golf writer Patricia Davies made it her charity for her year as Ladies’ Captain of Whittington Heath Golf Club, raising £6,800.
- Jane Keating asked for donations in memory of her husband, the brilliant sports writer Frank Keating, who died in January 2013.
- Matthew's aunt and uncle, Ruth and Mervyn Lesser, asked for donations instead of gifts to celebrate their Diamond Wedding.
he was 11 he never had a more serious ailment than athlete’s foot.
He lived on a farm in Herefordshire with his parents, Matthew and Hilary, and younger sister Vika.
Laurie wanted to win Wimbledon or, failing that, be a sports writer like his dad. Almost anything seemed possible – except what did happen. He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Despite 17 months of intensive treatment, he died in September 2005, aged 13.
Laurie’s friends often speak of his kindness. He said he wanted to make a difference. His family set up the Laurie Engel Fund to make sure that he would.
The Laurie Engel Fund
Laurie was treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the childhood cancer centre for much of England. The Engel family found the medical care there world-class, but the facilities and surroundings dismal.
The Engel family set up the Laurie Engel Fund to try to ensure future patients have better conditions than Laurie did. Working initially with Teenage Cancer Trust, the fund raised £1.1m – and as a result a new £2.5m teenage unit opened in 2010. It has been a huge success, delighting patients, parents and staff and setting new standards at the hospital.
The snag was that the unit created a big discrepancy between the facilities available to teenagers and to younger children, who are still being housed in the old, low-grade wards. Recognising the problem, Birmingham Children’s Hospital has launched a £4m appeal to bring all their cancer facilities into a similar class.
In January 2013 the Engels decided to redirect Laurie’s fund to support this important cause – to try to give all the younger cancer patients the amenities they deserve; and to give them the best possible chance of recovery.
Please support us, Laurie, and all the children who will have to endure treatment for cancer in the future.
In 2013 the Laurie Engel Fund – having achieved its original objective of building a teenage cancer unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – switched to supporting the hospital’s own appeal: raising £4 million towards the cost of an entirely new cancer department. This target has now been reached, and work has started on the new four-storey building, due to be completed in 2017.