A giant cheque from the City

chequeThe worldwide investment company Threadneedle has presented Laurie’s fund with an extremely generous cheque for £4,000.

Simon Davies, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, was there to receive it at the company’s City office from Threadneedle’s chief investment officer, Mark Burgess.

David Dudding, a Threadneedle fund manager, has been a major supporter of Laurie’s fund, most recently donating the proceeds of his birthday cricket day at Wormsley (see below); and the company promised to follow his lead.

Cricket Day at Wormsley

Cameron & Lucy's wedding @ Podere FinerriDavid Dudding, already a generous supporter of the fund, celebrated his fortieth birthday in July with a cricket day at the beautiful Wormsley estate in the Chilterns.

He asked all his friends not to give him presents, but to make donations instead. David, who is a fund manager at Threadneedle, loves cricket, and learned about Laurie because he was a follower of Matthew’s writing in The Guardian.

The day was a huge success, with lots of families enjoying a delicious lunch and traditional tea, a children’s entertainer, and even, despite heavy rain in the morning, two games of cricket in the afternoon. An auction of goodies including signed football shirts and cricket bats – one donated to the fund by the ECB had been signed by the Ashes-winning England team – raised £5000; and a stream of contributions on our Justgiving page made by David’s friends and family has already raised another £5000.

Many, many thanks to David and his wife Catharine for organising this wonderful occasion. Photography by Catherine Monfils at Catmon Photography.

They did it!

tarifaMark Williams and Harry Saville, old school friends of Laurie’s, completed a fantastic 1554-mile bike ride in aid of the fund.

They rode right across France and Spain, from Normandy to Tarifa on the southern Spanish coast, in just 23 days.

They made rapid progress through France, though Spain proved a bit more problematic, what with the mountains and the intense heat which forced them to ride in darkness.

They reported their daily progress on Twitter at LaurieEngelBikeRide; and we were alarmed to read on 22 July, only a day away from their destination, that Harry had had an accident, falling off his bike when dazzled by a car’s headlights on a winding mountain road. However, with 14 stitches well bandaged, he was undaunted, and able miraculously to finish the course with Mark the next day.

Mark and Harry exceeded their £2000 target, and have now raised more than £3500. If you would like to sponsor them, please click here.

Many congratulations to them both for this amazing achievement. They made it sound so easy: but it was a terrific challenge, and they succeeded brilliantly.

RIBA award

professional photo of unit 006We were thrilled to hear that the TCT unit in Birmingham, designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, has received one of the prestigious annual awards from RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects. The judges said of the unit:

The Teenage Cancer Trust ward is inspirational. This is a wonderful building that provides young people in harrowing circumstances with peace, calm and respite. It’s a truly inspiring achievement.

This is a single storey lightweight structure perched over A& E and the fracture clinic. It is situated in a busy and chaotic part of Birmingham, cut off by roads and surrounded by hospital buildings with different dates, styles and looks all embracing one other. The design has achieved an oasis of peace and calm while still meeting the very specific and stringent requirements set by the NHS. The attention to details and to colours is quite remarkable. The entry corridor with free forms carved out of the thick internal wall to one side is witty and enjoyable and makes for a pleasant approach to the unit.

2011 Laurie Engel Football Tournament

tournament 2011 004The rain stopped, the sun came out, and around 30 youngsters turned up for this annual event in the Golden Valley. May 28 should have been Laurie’s 19th birthday; but we were delighted that it was marked in this way.

The numbers this year were swelled by a contingent from the Eways Harold 1246 Air Cadets, led by Flight Captain Mark Price. Steve and Bonnie Herington refereed the matches, with Keith Harman keeping score. Gareth Jones cooked his usual delicious barbecue; and the raffle prizes included generous gifts from local enterprises including the Kilpeck Inn, Rowlestone Farmhouse ice cream, and the Hay Festival.

tournament 2011 008Matthew said a few words and presented the medals (donated by Mountain Mayhem); and Mark Williams came along to talk about his prospective trans-Europe bike ride for the fund.

Golf Day and Nail Painting at Ross-on-Wye

Fifty players took part in a golf day organised by Mike Donoghue, the Head of PE at John Kyrle High School, Ross-on-Wye, on April 30. The event was held in memory of Matthew Beddard, who died of cancer at the age of 13 in the same year as Laurie. Many of Matthew’s friends came along to play and buy raffle tickets, and £370 was raised on the day.

Caroline Ward from Ross Health & Fitness, a great friend of the Beddard family, organised a toe nail painting day at the gym on June 18, with nail art provided by Abi Beddard, Matthew’s sister, and her friends. Great fun was had by all participants, and £417.50 was raised.

Many many thanks to the Beddard family, and all concerned with both of these events.

Paul and Polly’s wedding

paul+pollyWhen our friends Paul Coupar and Polly Hennessy got married in July they very generously asked their guests not to give them presents but instead to make donations to Laurie’s fund. We are extremely grateful for the £1500 they raised.

Paul said they did it partly to avoid getting eight toasters: but this is not his first contribution to the fund. In 2007 he and his colleague at Wisden, Hugh Chevallier, did a 150-mile sponsored walk all the way from their office in Hampshire to our home in Herefordshire.

Many thanks, Paul and Polly.

Nail painting day

This was a first for the Fund. In June we received a donation of more than £400 from the Beddard family of Ross-on-Wye, raised by a nail painting day at their local gym. Mel Beddard tells us: ‘Caroline Ward, who runs the gym, organised it and we all had a fabulous day. Lots of our friends made cakes and gave donations of raffle prizes and Abi and her friends did the nail art. It was a great success.’

This is the latest of many fund-raising efforts by the Beddards, whose son Matthew died of cancer aged 13 in the same year as Laurie. Thank you very much to all concerned.


SONY DSCOn February 22, 2011, exactly a year after the TCT unit opened in Birmingham, the staff and patients celebrated the anniversary with tea, cake and a bit of a dance.

A full year on, lead nurse Lorraine Beddard is still fizzing with the enthusiasm she had on Day One.

“It’s still amazing,” she says. “People still can’t believe how good it’s all been. We can see the difference in the patients.”

The latest addition to the staff is a youth support co-ordinator, Zoë Allton. She has started her job by visiting other TCT units around Britain to gather ideas. She is planning to start cookery, arts and crafts and “Look good, feel better” sessions to add to the existing activities.

The Brummie pop star Mr Hudson, who helped Roger Daltrey at the official opening, has donated a drum kit so there is now regular accompaniment during the popular guitar lessons.

Thanks to our friends at the Maria Watt Foundation, twenty kids will be going to London for TCT’s annual week of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.

And one 15-year-old was given tickets to see his beloved Birmingham City beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup final, which was pretty powerful therapy.

Around two dozen different patients are being treated on the unit every month, although most have to return regularly to continue their treatment. The six beds are nearly always full and, whenever possible, not-quite-teenagers are allowed to move over from the children’s ward to enjoy the much better facilities.