When our son Matthew became ill, it seemed that everyone we knew wanted to help in some way. My husband Bill, our daughter Sarah, and myself would like to say “THANK YOU” to everyone who organised a fundraising event, baked a cake, brought a raffle ticket, played football, donated prizes, ran a race, sung a song or helped in some way which contributed to supporting Matthew.
The financial strain that Matthew’s illness put on our family was unimaginable. We seriously considered selling our house to pay for anything that might help Matthew recover. My business went downhill fast as I put Matthew first in order to support him – any mother would have done the same. For a while, financial help came in the form of credit cards.
It is difficult to put into words how grateful we are for all the fundraising. The money raised helped to pay for our hotel bills while Matthew underwent treatment at the Christie’s cancer hospital in Manchester and helped pay for a huge number of daily supplements, weekly organic vegetable boxes, juicing machines, lots of specialist treatments and equipment, therapists, car parking, consultation fees, a private Oncologist, petrol costs, etc.
Special thanks must go to the AJAX TO AJAX lads: Sam Canty, Matthew Wells, Joe Weston and Joe Burns who were close friends of Matthew. They shared a love of Central Ajax in Warwick - the football club that brought them together as kids and reunited them when they coached the club’s youth team.
Sam Canty understood how incredibly difficult it was for us financially and he initiated and organised a massive fundraising event to support Matthew and our family.
The event started with a charity football match on Easter Monday between Ajax Youth 2011-13 XI and a Matt Bates XI at the Central Ajax ground in Warwick. It included a raffle, an auction and a cake sale. After the match, Sam Canty, Matthew Wells, and Joe Weston started their 430 mile bike ride, a five day ride that took them through France and Belgium, and onto Ajax Amsterdam Football club in the Netherlands. Sam, Matt and Joe were ably assisted by Joe Burns who drove the support van, and Matthew Canty and Matthew Crowther who filmed the journey for the Ajax To Ajax documentary. It was one of Matthew’s wishes that the film should still be shown after his death and it was premiered in the local cinema. The documentary gives a great insight into Matt's thoughts and feelings, along with those of his friends and family.
The documentary film was made to highlight the Ajax to Ajax fundraising effort, but it was so much more than that; it also shows how friendships and how the wider community and how people we didn’t even know came together for Matthew and for our family. The documentary gives an insight into Matthew’s journey through cancer, but also highlights how his experience rippled out into the wider community and created an outpouring of love and support.
Thank you to Sam Canty for initiating this fundraising especially as it had a snowball effect with other people then starting their fundraising events too.
One of the many donated gifts for the Ajax to Ajax event included a limited-edition print of Pele which had been signed by the great man himself raised an amazing £650 – Thank You Castle Galleries, Leamington Spa for donating this and to Vince Canty & Patrick Lennon for sorting it out.
Special thanks must also go to our local music community. Our good friend Keith Donnelly contacted a number of folk clubs and asked them to support Matthew under the heading of, Music for Matt. Keith is an amazing character and we thank him so much for his support!
The Tump Folk Club is based at The Humber pub in Coventry and is run by our friend Karen Orgill. Anna Ryder accompanied Keith Donnelly (and Bill) with floor spots from Matthew Powell and Rob Oakey. Thank You to everyone who played and contributed!
On Tuesday 29th March the lovely people of Stockton folk club put on a gig for Music for Matt. As well as “Away With The Fairies” there was the great Norman Wheatley from Warwick Folk Club, Rik Middleton, “NUNC” (Geoff Veasey and his niece, Flossie) Dan Gascoigne and a cast of hundreds. Stockton Folk Club is run by a cracking bunch of people and we would like to thank them and all the people who donated. Colin, Mike, Rod, Frank and all the people who run the club are an amazing bunch! Thank You.
The Sly Old Dogs are a group of fine musicians who play Irish and Scottish music throughout the Midlands. Our mates Bob Brooker and Pete Willow decided to dedicate their gig at the Wood Farm Brewery to the Music for Matt appeal. It is humbling to think that those people in the audience – some of whom had no idea who Matthew was – were willing to contribute! Thank you to Bob and Pete, all those who played and to everyone who contributed!
Bill has been a regular performer at Bedworth Folk Club and Bedworth Folk Festival and we were not surprised when Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan agreed to put on a Music for Matt night – they are very special people and we love them to bits. Performing on the night were Anna Ryder, Noel LeLong, Bob Brooker, John Kearney, Brian Phillips, Phillip Benson, Malc Gurnham, Geoff Veasey, and John Richards. Thanks to Brenda Gurnham for doing the door and raffle and scoring the quiz which was won by the Stanleys who added their £25 cash prize to the evenings funds! I am also pleased to say that Matt and Bill were able to pop in for a short while. Thank You so much to everyone who played, organised the event and contributed to the evening.
Thanks goes to Norman Wheatley who dedicated Monday 18th April 2016 to the Music for Matt fund. Performing was Keith Donnelly, Martyn Oram, Anna Ryder, Flossie Malavialle as well as support from Rik Middleton, Alkevan and MC’d to perfection by Micheal Luntley. It was a wonderful night and the room was packed with standing room only! Thank You All!!! Despite Matthew being very ill he insisted on popping in to say thank you to everyone and made an off-the-cuff speech.
Bill has performed at the Banbury Folk Club and Banbury Folk Festival for many years and the people there are very special. Derek and Mary Droscher are amazing people and those that attend the club are all so friendly. On the 4th May 2016 they put on a special Music For Matt evening with Keith Donnelly leading the night together with Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan, Martyn Oram, Paula and Stuart Tindall and Linda Watkins all performing (not forgetting Richard Watkins on the sound) – which made it a pretty damn good line up! Thank you to everyone involved – Bill never had so many hugs in such a short space of time!
Our family friend and superstar Ursula Holden Gill kindly ran the Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday 13th March 2016 to support Matthew’s appeal. Ursula – an actress, musician and storyteller – has done loads of fundraising over the years for lots of great causes. We couldn’t resist heading up to Liverpool for the race and surprising Ursula with our support. We spotted Ursula around the twelve-mile mark. It was a great moment for all of us. Incredibly, she smashed her £500 target, raising £3,270 – an amazing achievement.
Thank you so much Ursula!
Contributions to the Ajax to Ajax fund raising page and Ursula’s Half Marathon page includes donations from… Bernard & Sue Gallagher, Charles Maynard, Georgina Fitton, Stella and Te, Nan Hickerton, Sean Lonergan, Alicia, Sinead Gately, Tim Goundry, Anneka Noon, Freddie Wright, Jenni Stac, Mike and Kate Devereux, Luke Ayris, Ellie Rowley, Tom Devereux, Callum Madden, Darren Feeney, Rob Griffin, Ben Robinson, Lisa Murphy, Claire Burdett, Nikki, Pete, Luke, Matthew & Hannah, Josh Geddes, Kai Geddes, Kath Geddes, Sophie Johnson, Nicky A, Julie & Guy Filhol, Jamie Ciampa, Kirsty, Lisa Poulton, Vince Humby, Sian Javadi, Steve Cooper, Jonathan Handford, Kevin De Byrne, Jim & Joy Barry, Mike Atkinson, Gaz Manley, Nan Hickerton, Nicola Brewster, John & Jackie Patterson, Ellie Molyneux, Kat Turner, Clare O’Reilly, Pam Ellis, Chris & Mick Lucey, Olivia – Vogue International, Ann & Leon Sayce, Rebecca Shaw, Sally & Brian Young, Arthur & Megan, Sam & Louise Weston, Sam Wanless, Lou & Rich, Dave O’Driscoll, Win & Arth, Jules Wells, Betty Campbell, Maureen Hobson, Dave & Vel Johnson, Cassie and Tina, David & Hayley Fitchett, Ben and Helen, Alice Earley, Lesley Bevan, Maidy, Aillie & Duncan, Sophie and Adam Lewis, Claire Latham, Lucy and Bob, Penny Haynes, Martha & Joe, Danny and Amanda Mckendry, Dave Matthews, Dave & Sarah, Emma, James Purcell, Ellie, Helen Mulkeirins, Michael Thomas, Pa, Eamon & Debbie, Lucy-Meg, Yvonne Hammond, Fiona Crowther, Nicholas Rogerson, Daniel Bate, Will Pendred, Anne Warren, Joanna Clifton, Shirley Welsh, Heather O’Sullivan, Aliki Marcopoli, Emma Davis, Alistair McCartney, Tommy & Treena O’Reilly, Dave & Jackie Gregory, Phillip Brown, Becky and Mikey, Jess and Chris, Olivia Meguer, Campbell McKee, Dave Rogerson, Elaine Harris, George The Monk, Martin Day, Muttley Wells, Eleanor Carne, Nicole Dudley, Hazel and Andrew, Gill and James, Richard Hoyland, Mark and Katrina Crawford, Monica Clifton, Lisa and Da, Ann Glendon-Doyle, Jen Dulson, Patrick Mulligan, Amelia Gallini, Mary Cannon, Alex Chamberlain, Matt and Claire Roberts, Janet, Win and Arth, Jules Wells, Charles Mcallen, Katrina Mason, Sacha Sutton, Daniel Ciampa, Wendy Horley, Caroline Endersbee, Claire Elsworth, Sarah Reader, Helen, Aaron Satchwell, Jack Keeling, Ami Paneser, Mike Govier, Bernie, Ellen Goodwin, Katie Swindells, Charlie Owen, ITALPIZZA srl Italy, Verity Castle, Pete and Liz, Clare Twycross, Scott Davis, Clara MÃ©ndez, Joe Hewison, Stewart & Jane Payne, Ian & Fiona Salmon, Margaret Pattenden , Linda O’Sullivan, Mich Handford, Hank & Jean Handford, Liam Moody, Emmie, John & Carol Canty, Ollie Stuchbury, Theresa Mansfield, Rebecca Lonergan, Malyon family, Laura Ellis, Ben O’Driscoll, Kyle Ball, Sue, Antony Lewis, Sue & Ted, Jay Scriven, Dan Wickes, Dorothy Bigley, Joe Yeates, Sarah Rudge, Chris and Claire, Sonya Heesom, Lorraine Goor, Rachel Law, Steven Aspinall, Vicki Street, Alex and Andy Hickerton, Chrissie Hickerton, Rebecca Cleveley, Barbara Greewal, Dan Brown, Hattie Fellowes, Marina & Bruce, Jacky & Pete, Ruth Males, Mike & Sarah, Monica, Richard and family, Jake McCarthy Phillips, Oliver Canty, Anne Peet, Jon Byrne, Joe Canty, Jane Fellowes, Wendy Ann Williams, Andrew Burridge, Tony Conway, Ryan Timms, Silvia, Tim Micallef, Jack Telford, Graham Binks, Sarah Empson, James Geddes, Ol and Family, Liam Salmon, Niki O’Connell, Gina Creese, Kath and Ian Montgomery, Sonya Heesom, Mel Timms, Christian, The Hoffs, George Keaney, Matt, Shaun Ellis, Harry Conway, Sinead Cannon, Lucy Cook, Paul & Glen Elliott, Kelvin, Thomas Callaghan, Matt Barratt, Kathy Field, Luke Young, Jon Harrington, Mum, Alan Harvey, Nikki Jones, Vince & Chris, The Sherman Family, Lucy, Auntie Pat, Andrew, John Wright, Heidi Kharbhihm, Diane Caroline and Callum,, Robin and Gill Kaye, Christine Murray, Chris and Pete, Fiona Henderson, Jonathan Waller, B and L Rowley, Nick Broomfield, Jane Hostler (Gallagher), Annie Heawood, Martin and Lisa Bradbury, Lisa Hall, Katherine, Karen Turner, The Meguer Clan! Charlotte Richardson, Kay and Pete Bonehill, Liz & Chris, John Neal, Chris Pat & Hannah, Peter Delves, Ian & Sue Hartland, Geoff Phipps, Rupe, Chris & Jenni Barthakur, Lynn Owen, Ian Bland, Just Grilles, The Cox Family, Justin Archer, Dave Page, Linda & Richard, John Kearney, Pete & Chele Willow, Mick and Carol Dolby, Bob Brooker … and many, many others!!!!!
There were also a large amount of anonymous donations and although we don’t know who you are but we would like to say a massive Thank You to you all. Some donated through the Ajax To Ajax funding page, others donated via Ursula’s funding page and others put money into an envelope and popped it though our letterbox (we would have loved to say thank you to your face over a cup of tea). We can guess who some of you are – and we definitely know who others are – but they have asked to remain anonymous.
There have been others who have constantly helped our family. Sonya Heesom (my bestie) was amazing and often turned up out of the blue with groceries. Keith Donnelly came to record at our music studio on more than one occasion and ended up just listening to Bill talking and somehow, he still managed to make him laugh (Keith has been amazing). Anna Ryder also recorded an album at our studio and proved to be a great listener (as well as being an incredible musician and songwriter) and it’s no wonder that her CD took so long to come out, she had to put up with Bill blabbing! Our friends Stewart and Jayne have always been amazing (we drank the wine Stuart – thank you!), Kevin & Wendy have been great friends and so have all Bill’s colleagues at work especially his amazing boss.
Also… P.G, O.R, B.G …. you know who you are!
Maddie sold some toys to help her Cousin Matthew and raised £18.17 – what a smasher!!!!
Kate (my cousin) from Gower Cottage Brownies kindly donated a hamper to Matts appeal! For the best brownies ever, check out her website. www.gowercottagebrownies.co.uk - Thanks Kate!!!
A huge thank you to Lesley Smith, and all her colleagues at Warwickshire Council offices. They raised £220 with donations to her raffle. Thank you, Lesley!
The love and support from relatives, friends and the wider community kept us going and we will be eternally grateful for each and every one of you. You made Matthew’s remaining time on this planet so much more comfortable and we will never forget you for that. Thank you sooo much. xxxxxxxxx
Total money raised by combining all fundraising events reached £25,230.94
After Matthew passed away, the remaining fund money paid for his wake at Stoneleigh Abbey. It was an incredible celebration of Matthew’s life, surrounded by everyone who knew and loved him. We were able to give him a great send off because of the generosity of these people. Thank you.
Thanks also to Dr Manning from Starthrowers - The purpose of Star Throwers is to guide and support those who wish to look at all aspects of cancer treatment either before or after treatment with conventional therapy and also give advice on the prevention of cancer in those at high risk. Dr Manning went the extra mile for Matthew and we will never forget the hope he gave us when we were told there was no hope. www.starthrowers.org.uk
Thank you also to the staff and practitioners at the Kenilworth chiropractic clinic in Kenilworth. They were extremely generous with their time and their support for Matthew and he received great care and attention from amazing people. www.kenilworthchiropractic.com
Our thanks also to the wonderful medical professionals who went the extra mile for Matthew. We did get to see the best and the worst of the NHS but we choose to remember the special individuals who really cared.
The Christie hospital in Manchester never gave up on Matthew and we will always remember their kindness and positivity.
The nursing staff at Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital (you know who you are) and all the staff in Warwick Hospital especially Mary Ward and the A&E Department.
The community nursing team. Their visits to our home were always supportive and caring and we were so pleased that Matthew experienced excellent nursing during this time.
Thank you also to the Myton Hospice for making Matthews last five days on this planet as comfortable as possible. There truly are angels here on earth.