Couple to donate £50,000 towards Colchester General Hospital’s cancer centre appeal in memory of son

Tom Bowdidge. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Tom Bowdidge. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The parents of inspirational teenager Tom Bowdidge are to donate £50,000 towards an appeal for a new cancer care centre at Colchester General Hospital.

Nikki and Richard Bowdidge, of Firmins Court, West Bergholt, will on Tuesday hand over the generous donation, which will fund a two-chair chemotherapy bay for teenage cancer patients in the fresh facility once it is built.

The money has been raised through the Tom Bowdidge Foundation, which the couple set up alongside their daughter Emma in memory of their son, who died in 2013 aged 19 from a desmoplastic small round cell tumour and extensive peritoneal disease.

In the 13 months between his diagnosis and death, Tom, who had been at sixth-form at Colchester Royal Grammar School, helped to raise £178,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Mrs Bowdidge said: “Many teenagers and young people are facing rare and aggressive cancers with long-term side effects. I watched my son and his fellow patients face unique social, emotional and physical difficulties.

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“Their education was interrupted. They felt isolated from friends as they no longer felt they had anything in common and the latter did not know how to cope with their friend’s diagnosis. Their families were left struggling to cope.

“These complex issues mean they need specialist care and support and an environment tailored to their needs. However, teenagers and young adults with cancer often get lost in a health care system that simply doesn’t recognise their physical and emotional needs.

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“Therefore, we wanted to ensure that there is an age-appropriate space provided in the Colchester cancer centre for young people with cancer.”

The Tom Bowdidge Foundation has already invested £25,000 in facilities at Colchester General Hospital for young cancer patients.

Caroline Bates, head of charity and fundraising at Colchester Hospitals Charity, which is running the Cancer Centre Campaign, said: “In our plans for the centre, we include facilities within its chemotherapy day unit that will enable us to treat teenage patients as teenagers first and not as adult cancer patients.

“We will set aside an area separate from the other adult chemotherapy chairs and make it teenage-friendly by including wifi facilities, a laptop computer, a DVD player, soft furnishings and bespoke furniture. We aim to make this area private, comfortable, informal and with an upbeat atmosphere.”

Tom was diagnosed after being sent to the emergency assessment unit at Colchester General Hospital and also spent time as an inpatient on the cancer wards at Essex County Hospital, when his father used to sleep on the floor to be with him.

The cancer facility will be built on a new floor above the radiotherapy centre.

The £50,000 donation will take the Cancer Centre Campaign to £2,669,390 of its £3.25m target.

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