Dave Restall, who works as a mechanic at the supermarket’s Wakefield distribution centre, took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge with his colleagues – raising £43,435 for CLIC Sargent, the supermarket’s charity partner and the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer.
His family was supported by CLIC Sargent after 16-year-old Ben was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma – a rare soft tissue cancer – in his neck, in March 2015.
Dave said: “In January, he started to have extreme pain in his neck. I remember he was having a shower and he was just crying out in pain. Ben was a big strong lad, so to see him like that I knew something must have been wrong.
“When we found out it was cancer, we broke down in tears. We didn’t want to worry him, and we didn’t want him to think this was it.
"We kept him strong and we kept him believing that he could beat this illness. But the cancer was so aggressive.”
Ben underwent two operations and a course of radiotherapy to try and remove the cancer and shrink the tumour, but in October 2015 – just six months after diagnosis – his parents were told he wouldn’t get better.
“I was in bits. His mum and I have two other sons, and we all felt devastated” added Dave.
“Liam, our eldest who is 23, was there when we were told Ben wasn’t going to make it. He will never, ever get over it. In his last weeks we just did everything we could to give him experiences.
“When Ben was diagnosed, a cheque came through from CLIC Sargent – which was just amazing. It helped us get him out and about and make memories with him.
"It meant we just had a bit of a safety net and that money to families who are struggling is paramount. From that day, I knew I wanted to support CLIC Sargent. I want to help the people who help me. When Morrisons chose CLIC Sargent to be their charity partner, no one was more pleased than me. The Yorkshire Three Peaks walk was my way of helping.”
Dave took on Yorkshire’s highest peaks in September, alongside colleagues from as far afield as Scotland and Plymouth. Due to high winds and rain, not all colleagues were allowed to take on the third mountain.
But this week, the group’s total fundraising was revealed to be an incredible £22,212 for CLIC Sargent, with match funding by the Morrisons Foundation bringing the total to £43,435.
Ben passed away at home on 9 December 2015.
Dave said: “Ben will never be forgotten. I am very, very proud of him and everything he achieved and who he was. He was a great lad and very well thought of. He wanted to be a pilot. But he is never going to come back and that is the hardest part.”
Rory Traynor, Corporate Account Manager at CLIC Sargent, said: “We were honoured to have Dave join us on the trek, and to hear his story was incredibly moving. All of the Morrisons colleagues gave the trek their all, and were all so determined to take on the mountains, despite facing terrible weather conditions.
"It is a testament to Morrisons colleagues’ dedication to our families that they ploughed on – and we are blown away by the fundraising total.”
Morrisons colleagues chose CLIC Sargent to be its charity partner following a staff vote in January this year.
The three year partnership has a target of £8m that will transform the support CLIC Sargent can give to young people facing cancer.
The money raised will provide five new nurse educators, who can educate other health, social care and education professionals close to patients’ homes so they don’t need to travel miles for specialist care.
It will also fund Home Hubs next to specialist cancer treatment hospitals, so families can take a break from hospital life or do simple things like wash clothes and prepare a meal.
The partnership fundraising will also allow CLIC Sargent to extend the grants it offers to families to ease the financial burden of cancer, which is on average £600 a month per family.