During our visit to Poulton St Chad’s C E Primary School, a young boy came and introduced himself and told us he had done an 18mile bike ride with his dad to raise money for Milly;s Smiles. Upon delving further we were extremely impressed, to say the least, at how much training, and hard work and effort Matthew had been putting into getting ready for the ride and the actual ride itself. We got in touch with Matthew’s dad and he told us how hard Matthew has worked, and what the charity means to him….
Since a relatively young age, perhaps the age of 7, my son Matthew has been aware of cancer. Luckily this hasn’t been through close family members suffering from the disease. I think his awareness has largely been through what he has picked up from the radio or television, and his inquisitive nature has led him to ask us, his parents, lots of questions. We have always been honest with Matthew about cancer, both the sad news but also balancing this with how through research more and more people are surviving cancer. So when his friend Megan became ill, Matthew had a good understanding of what having cancer meant but at the same time was naturally very concerned. In fact his whole class were significantly affected by this, perhaps especially so because as part of a community school they are so close. Megan has been very open with her class mates about what she has been going through and has shared her journey with them. As a 10 year old Matthew had a lot of worry on his shoulders. He desperately wanted to do something to help but he just didn’t know where to start. Then Milly’s Smiles came to St Chad’s school in Poulton-Le-Fylde and talked about the amazing work they did to help families who were coping with cancer. Matthew was so inspired by the stories he heard and was warmed by the very practical help the charity gave to both the children and parents of those at the beginning of cancer treatment, and the immediate emotional difference this support made. It was this very day that Matthew came home knowing how he could do something ‘positive’: taking part in the Beaverbrooks 18 Miles Bike Ride and raising money! We had already talked about doing the ride as a fun challenge but now it took on a new meaning. We discussed ‘how much’ we thought we could raise but didn’t get too hung up on this because we believed even small amounts can make a difference. So we set up a Just Giving page and got started with a target of £100. Interestingly, Matthew knew that if he was asking people for money, he needed to show them that he was going to try his very best. We therefore spent the weeks before event regularly training and would be out on our bikes no matter what the weather. He showed enormous commitment throughout. His Uncle Sean (my brother) was also hugely inspired by the work of Milly’s Smiles and Matthew’s mission and joined us for part of the ride. The day itself was great. The weather was kind to us and Matthew cycled with huge determination. Out of the 3 of us he certainly had the hardest job. To explain further, at around the 15 mile mark, Matthew said his bike was getting hard to pedal. After a quick check everything seemed okay. It was only as we neared the end that it became clear that Matthew’s front break had been catching. So he was basically cycling with his front break partly on! Oops! Throughout the ride we took pictures and kept all our supporters informed about how we were getting on and even tried to make them all jealous at the supply of jelly babies we had. We finished the ride and overall Matthew managed to raise £295. He was so incredibly proud and overwhelmed at the support and generosity people showed him. He didn’t even know some of these people. Word spread about what he was doing and people just decided to help! Uncle Sean managed to raise £350, much of which came from his fantastic colleagues at Royal Mail in Blackpool, and he generously decided to add this to our overall total. They say that from small acorns grow big oak trees. What started as a 10 year old boy wanting to make a difference ended with a donation of £645 being made to Milly’s Smiles. But the overall benefits are much more than money. It’s about community spirit and people coming together, and as Matthew’s dad I could not be more proud of my son.
WOW! Matthew, you are an amazing, kind young man, and we thank you so much for all your hard work and for the amazing amount of money you have raised for us.