This week, Kier Regional Building is taking on a series of charity walking challenges, with fundraising split between The Kier Foundation, The British Heart Foundation, End Youth Homelessness and other causes close to employees’ hearts, one of these being Teenage Cancer Trust. Here Peter Collins, contracts manager, Kier Regional Building Northern, speaks about why it means so much to him to be raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust this week.  

“Kier Regional Building is taking on a series of charity walking challenges this week; in Kier Regional Building Northern, we’re walking approximately 110 miles between sites and offices from Malton to Sheffield, stopping along the way at York, Leeds, Bradford and Barnsley.

During the challenge, we’ll be raising money for The Kier Foundation, an independent charity that raises money for British Heart Foundation, End Youth Homelessness and other causes close to employees’ hearts, and a range of charities chosen by the employees taking part.

I nominated Teenage Cancer Trust as one of our charities, and my colleagues and I will be getting our walking boots on in memory of my son, Joe.

In July 2015, at the end of his first year at Lancaster University, Joe was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, a very rare form of liver cancer which affects adolescents and young adults with no history of liver disease.

In August 2015, he had surgery to remove the tumour and was able to start his second year at university as planned. However, in July 2016, we found out the cancer had returned and was incurable.

Joe died on 23 February this year at St James’ University Hospital in Leeds, aged 23, in the Teenage Cancer Trust Young Adult Unit. The specialist unit provides care in a setting designed for young people. Throughout Joe’s treatment, the expert team at Teenage Cancer Trust were phenomenal. The care they gave Joe, and the support they gave the rest of the family, made a huge difference in helping us cope with a truly awful situation.

While Joe was undergoing chemotherapy, he – and our family and friends – could spend the day in a bright, airy room that didn’t feel like a hospital with other patients, watching television, playing pool or just sitting together.

Joe was supported by Jes, a dedicated nurse specialist funded by Teenage Cancer Trust. She remains a source of support for us, and we’re incredibly grateful to the charity for giving Joe (and our family) the kind of support which isn’t funded by the NHS.

Since Joe’s diagnosis, my wife, Sephie, and our family have been fundraising for Teenage Cancer Trust; Sephie has run the Great North Run and the Royal Parks Half Marathon, and our niece, Emily, recently ran the Leeds Half Marathon.

So far, our family has raised over £18,400 for the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at St James’ University Hospital – well over our target of £1,000 – which will help the charity continue their vital work that helps families during very difficult circumstances.

The walks will be challenging, but I’m looking forward to getting involved with my colleagues and building Joe’s legacy by raising money that will help other families.”

To find out more about the charity challenge, please visit the team’s JustGiving site.

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