Music festival raises thousands for a charity set up in memory of Colchester teenager Tom Bowdidge

Tom Bowdidge

Tom Bowdidge - Credit: Archant

More than £4,000 has been raised for a charity set up in memory of an inspirational teenager from Colchester.

Tom Bowdidge

Tom Bowdidge - Credit: Archant

The Tom Bowdidge Foundation received the money after the Neillbury Festival earlier this summer, which saw hundreds of people turn out to show their support.

The foundation was set up following the death of Tom Bowdidge – a 19-year-old who lost his battle with a desmoplastic small round cell tumour and extensive peritoneal disease in 2013.

Jonathan Neill, one of the organisers and managing director of Sportsafe, which hosted the festival, said he decided to plan the event after bumping into Tom’s family last year.

He added: “My family and the team all love live music and big events, so we thought what a great idea to bring the team together and raise valuable funds for our company 2017 charity of choice, the Tom Bowdidge Foundation.

Team members behind the Neillbury Festival, held in aid of the Tom Bowdidge Foundation. Picture: SPO

Team members behind the Neillbury Festival, held in aid of the Tom Bowdidge Foundation. Picture: SPORTSAFE UK - Credit: Archant

“I met Tom at a fundraising event many years ago and was blown away by his passion - a truly inspirational young man.”

The event was held on June 24 in Great Tey, and although it was originally supposed to be a ‘mini Glastonbury’ set up, the night saw so many people that it became a festival weekend.

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Bands including Blank Space, EBIT, The Boleyn Gates, and headliners Bandsubstance all performed, with audiences dancing the night away until 1am.

The Tom Bowdidge Foundation was set up on the 20th birthday anniversary of the youngster, and has so far raised more than £500,000.

Audience members enjoying the music at the festival. Picture: SPORTSAFE UK

Audience members enjoying the music at the festival. Picture: SPORTSAFE UK - Credit: Archant

The charity has also been instrumental in opening new facilities for young adults at Colchester General Hospital, with a ceremony held earlier this year.

The new spaces include a quiet area, clinic room and a single en suite room to help outpatients with their treatment.

Keen to leave his mark before his death though, Tom himself got involved with fundraising and helped collect £178,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Emma Bowdidge, from the foundation, said of the festival: “It was an amazing event and we were happy to be involved, especially as we were running the children’s entertainment stand.

A Tom Bowdidge Foundation tent sets up camp at the festival. Picture: SPORTSAFE UK

A Tom Bowdidge Foundation tent sets up camp at the festival. Picture: SPORTSAFE UK - Credit: Archant

“What a great evening and wow, the amount that was raised – just incredible.”

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