Matt's Legacy: Family, Friends and Colleagues on a Mission to Raise £100,000

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12 March 2019

Matt's Legacy: Family, Friends and Colleagues on a Mission to Raise £100,000

A team of nine local friends and colleagues will be joining forces to raise £100,000 in memory of Matt Sharp, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 25, following a long-term battle with Leukaemia.

The amount raised will fund a room in Matt’s name within a new facility, The House of Teens Unite, which will provide short-term accommodation, leisure facilities and space to hold a range of workshops and activities for young people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

At the forefront of the fundraising team is Matt’s father, Ian Sharp from Hunsdon, who has said: “The room we are hoping to fund will be Matty’s legacy and will help the family to feel his short, but precious life was not in vain.”

It was Christmas Day in 2011, when the family noticed Matt looked very unwell: “His face was drawn and he had blackened eyes with blood blisters in his mouth, almost as if he had been in a fight.” On Boxing Day, Matt went to hospital as he was covered in bruises and after waiting for blood results, the family were ushered in to see a doctor, who delivered the news they had all been dreading. At the age of 19, Matt was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

He stayed overnight at QE11 hospital, before being referred to UCLH, where his lengthy treatment began. Ian explains: “It felt like the worst nightmare you could possibly imagine, except everything wasn’t ok when you woke up.”

Ian continues: “The first three months in hospital were critical as Matt was very ill when he was diagnosed and complications caused major problems with his initial treatment as the doctors were unable to stabilise his immune system.”

In the fourth month, the chemotherapy started to work and Matt’s condition was improving slightly. By the tenth month he was in remission and was put on a maintenance programme, which lasted for two years. During this period Matt managed to regain some normality; he returned to work and enjoyed playing golf with family and friends.

The maintenance programme was completed and within a month he relapsed. Due to the speed of the relapse the doctors decided the only option was a bone marrow transplant. Matt started a very aggressive course of chemotherapy to prepare him for the transplant which was donated by his sister, Robyn.

Ian said: “This period in hospital was particularly difficult given the weeks of isolation and the pain he was suffering. Initially it seemed the transplant had worked, but during a routine test, signs of cancer had reappeared. The consultants managed to secure a trial drug which we all hoped would work but within a short period the cancer was back all over his body, but most importantly it had moved into his brain and he lost the sight in one eye.”

The doctors then broke the news to the family that Matt had only a few weeks to live and he was deteriorating rapidly.

Looking back, Ian said: “Throughout all the years of suffering he never moaned and he was more concerned about others around him even though he was critically ill. He was a selfless person who only thought of others, although he was in horrendous pain.”

The first part of the teams challenge to raise £100,000, is by completing a mammoth 979 mile cycle from Lands’ End to John O’Groats on 27th September – 6th October 2019. The cycling distance will be between 99 miles and 119 miles per day.

The team will set off from the rocky cliffs of Lands’ End, through the historic city of Bath, the stunning hills of Penrith and along the breezy coast of Tain, until reaching the most northern point of the UK; John O’Groats, where the finish line will be waiting.

Ian will be completing the cycle on a bike bought by Matt and forming the rest of the team will be Lee Venables, Graham Funnell, Kevin Claxton, Steve King, Tom Wakefield, Phil Walker, Sean McKiernan and Tim Venables.

Click here to support Ian and the team reach their fundraising target and enable them to fund a room in Matt's name, in The House of Teens Unite.

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