The close friends of a Whitnash cancer patient are about to embark on a 400-mile cycling challenge to help raise funds towards his treatment.
Matt Bates was diagnosed at the age of 26 with a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer - and although he had successful surgery in 2014 to remove a tumour and lymph nodes, the cancer returned and has since spread to his lung, spine and adrenal gland.
The former Trinity School pupil used to play and coach at Central Ajax Footbal Club in Warwick - and three of his mates who he met there, Sam Canty, Joe Weston and Matt Wells, have taken it upon themselves to organise a sponsored cycle from the club to Ajax Amsterdam Football Club in the Netherlands, calling their challenge ‘Ajax to Ajax’.
Sam, 27, said: “We’re all massive football fans in general so when we heard England were playing the Netherlands – our final destination – we had to go and get tickets. It was too big a co-incidence not too.”
He added: “We’ve become even closer since Matt’s diagnosis and want to use the ride as a bit of positivity for Matt and his family.”
More than £4,000 has already been raised towards the specialist treatment that Matt requires, as well as towards associated costs such as accommodation for his family during stints in hospital.
He said: “It’s become clear in recent months that people are desperate to help – and this is how they want to do it, which is an amazing feeling.
“We will never stop looking for ways to beat my cancer – whether that be in the UK or abroad – and will try anything that can give me a half a chance. To have the financial support to make that possible means a lot to both me and my family.”
He added: “We have set up a new bank account for all donations, and any money left over at the end of my treatment will be given to cancer charities that have helped us along the way.”
Matt’s friends are starting their cycle from the club in Hampton Road, Warwick, on Easter Monday with a friendly football match at 11am and anyone is welcome to go along.