Congratulations and many thanks to Mike Watkins
who completed the Istanbul Marathon on November 11 in the amazing time of 3 hours 29.09 minutes.
It was Mike’s first Marathon, and he had been hoping to do it in three and a half hours, so he is very pleased with the result. His parents Ruth and Ken went to Istanbul to see him race, and it was a great adventure for them all. Mike’s run has already raised more than £700 for Laurie’s fund.
If you would like to sponsor him, please click here.
Great South Run
Well done Mark, for completing the 2012 Great South Run.
Mark Williams was at primary and secondary school with Laurie; and last year together with his friend Harry Saville he finished a gruelling bike ride from northern France to southern Spain, raising more than £3500 for Laurie’s fund. Now he is at university in Portsmouth, where the 10-mile Great South Run took place in late October.
To sponsor Mark please click here.
Congratulations and many, many thanks to our friend Anne Dixey, who completed the Berlin Marathon on 30 September (her first) in just 3 hours and 56 minutes. Here she is crossing the finishing line.
Anne said afterwards that she felt fine – ‘just a bit on the stiff side’. She told us that she thought a lot about Laurie as she was running, ‘especially towards the end, when it was getting difficult’.
Anne got to know Laurie well when we were all living in Washington. Now back in London, she has become a keen runner.
She says “If Laurie had asked me ‘will you ever run a marathon?’, I would have replied ‘no way!’ But here I am. In the past three years I have gone from being a 2 mile jogger, to a 10k racer, to a half marathon runner.
“I am one of the lucky ones – I have life and health. I hope this run will inspire others to make the most of what they have, and to send the message to the teenagers in my world that there is nothing you can’t do if you try hard enough.”
Anne has raised well over £900 already, and hopes to get to £1000. To sponsor her, please click here.
Life on the Unit
Recently Laurie’s fund was able to help pay for a group of patients from the new TCT unit in Birmingham to go on a trip to London to attend one of the fund-raising concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.
Zoe Allton, who is the Youth Support Co-ordinator on the unit, wrote to say: “a big thank you for the donation towards the Royal Albert Hall trip. It went amazingly!! The 16 young people we took down were able to see the Jessie J concert and we stayed overnight at a hotel. The concert was very very good and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
“A lot of the young people who came on the trip had never been to any TCT social activities before so it was a big step for them!”
A group from the unit also went on a week’s outward bound trip to the Lake District which Zoe said “went very well, pushing the young people physically and mentally and building their confidence”.
The seventh annual Laurie Engel Football Tournament and barbecue was held as usual at Michaelchurch sports ground on June 2 this year.
It is always a pleasure to see the kids, young and old, having a great game of football, to meet up with old friends, and to enjoy Gareth’s delicious burgers. We were especially grateful that the Ewyas Harold squadron of Air Cadets, led by Mark Price, came along again to take part.
Steve Herington organised the teams, George Wood-Cole refereed, medals were donated by Mountain Mayhem, and Sonia Lloyd sold a record number of raffle tickets. Generous prizes were donated by various local businesses, including the Bridge Inn, the Bull’s Head, Shepherds Ice Cream and the Hay Festival.
£272 was raised for Laurie’s fund, and as ever we felt it was a most appropriate way to remember him, close to what should have been his twentieth birthday.
Nail Painting in Ross
Caroline Ward from Ross Health and Fitness organised a nail painting day in memory of Matthew Beddard of Ross-on-Wye, who died of cancer at the age of 13 in the same year as Laurie.
Over fifty people attended the event, bringing homemade cakes to enjoy with coffee and tea.
Matthew’s mother, Mel, says: ‘They raised an amazing £650. It’s unbelievable: and so lovely for us that everyone wants to continue their efforts and keep Matt’s memory alive.’
We are very grateful to the Beddard family for yet another donation to Laurie’s fund.
A walk along the mountains
On a glorious spring day, our three intrepid postmen, Keith Bradley, Paul Higgins and Ki Jenkins, completed their 17-mile hike along the mountain ridge from Hay-on-Wye to Craswall and back again. When we met them on the Cat’s Back they presented us with a pile of donations, and appeared to be enjoying themselves.
With the help of Royal Mail, they had delivered leaflets about the walk and Laurie’s fund to 2200 of their regular customers. There has been a fantastically generous response. Including Gift Aid, the total will be around £5000.
It was a great idea, and Keith, Paul and Ki carried it out with enormous enthusiasm and efficiency. Once again it demonstrated to us how kind our fellow Herefordians are. Many, many thanks to the three star walkers and everyone who supported them.
Laptops for the pre-teens
This spring Laurie’s fund has been able to make a small difference to the lives of the younger cancer patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The old ward 15, in which Laurie was treated, remains as it was then fairly sparsely equipped, in contrast to the super-duper TCT unit right next door.
It is probably going to be re-furbished in the near future, together with the rest of the oncology department. But this project requires £2 million plus, and is still at an early planning stage.
With the agreement of TCT, the Fund has just donated six lap-tops to be used by pre-teen patients, so that they won’t have to be quite so green with envy at all the facilities enjoyed by their teenage neighbours.
Newcastle Unit opened
With the Birmingham unit complete, and money still coming in, Laurie’s fund has been able to help out with another TCT project, at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Although there was already a unit there for younger teenagers, there was no provision for patients aged 18 to 24, who were having to be moved onto an adult oncology ward for their treatment.
With the help of £150,000 from Laurie’s fund, TCT has now re-furbished an existing ward in the hospital to create an 8-bed unit, with recreation space, kitchenette, dining area, juke box, pool table and seating. The ward includes a single en-suite bone marrow transplant bedroom.
Work has been completed on schedule, and the new unit is already fully occupied.
Life on the new Unit
We were impressed on a recent visit to the new unit in Birmingham to hear about the many activities now available to patients.
We saw a display of collages produced in a recent workshop with a professional artist, who came in to work with the young people. A musician comes in weekly to run jamming sessions. Other things going on include cookery, arts and crafts and pizza nights.
A group who had finished their treatment went in the spring to the TCT’s annual national conference, ‘Find your sense of tumour’; and another group went on an overnight trip to London, to one of the shows staged annually by TCT at the Albert Hall. And there is a regular support group/social evening for patients which runs monthly.
Youth support coordinator, Zoe Allton, employed by Teenage Cancer Trust, has been working here for a year now, and is full of enthusiasm and ideas for what can be done to help the young patients cope with their situation. On the wall of the social space, a collection of photos of smiling faces is a souvenir of many happy shared experiences. It is great to see that the new unit is not just a building: it is a community.