Tributes paid to charity fundraiser

By John HowardTRIBUTES have been pouring in for an inspirational father who spent the last months of his life raising more than £100,000 for cancer charities.

By John Howard

TRIBUTES have been pouring in for an inspirational father who spent the last months of his life raising more than £100,000 for cancer charities.

Despite being diagnosed with cancer, former sales director Graham Lockwood devoted himself to fundraising to help improve the lives of others.

Mr Lockwood, from Mendlesham, near Stowmarket, was aged just 44 when he died on Boxing Day. He had touched so many lives and impressed so many people with his commitment to charity fundraising.

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Although he had been given just weeks to live when diagnosed with cancer, he battled against the disease for 20 months, even trying different types of herbal medicines after being told their was nothing more that doctors could do to save him.

Mr Lockwood's wife Angela said: “From myself and my sons we want to thank everyone for their kindness throughout the last two years, from the bottom of our hearts. Graham had such courage, was such a positive person and a wonderful man.”

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Together with his family and a group of volunteers, Mr Lockwood organised a whole host of charity events, including a road tractor rally, auctions, dances, swimathons and coffee days.

The money he raised went to a number of groups, including the Cancer Campaign in Suffolk, Macmillan Cancer Relief and the Somersham Ward at Ipswich Hospital - and charity bosses described his efforts as truly inspirational.

A spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK said it was thanks to volunteers such as Mr Lockwood that it was able to undertake groundbreaking research, that saved lives every day.

Such was Mr Lockwood's commitment to others, at such a difficult time for him and his family, that he was honoured earlier this year with a community achievement award from Mid Suffolk District Council.

Andrew Stringer, district councillor for Mendlesham, said: “It's desperately sad that we lose a person like Graham, who was the glue of the community, and there are precious few people like that left.

“Graham was an inspiration to many people who would not normally have become involved in fundraising and his legacy is rekindling an awful lot of community spirit wherever he went.

“It's difficult to put in to words the massive effect he had on people. It was odd, it was almost like a wave, as he organised all these events and people became involved.

“When we announced the community awards my e-mail inbox and answer machine was full up with people suggesting Graham. I just wish there was a higher award we could have given him.”

Just days before Mr Lockwood lost his fight with cancer, at a time when his eyesight had gone and he needed morphine to control the pain, he was still talking about raising money for others and gave money to the St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich, where he was being cared for.

Colleagues at his old workplace, TNT in Mendlesham, had raised hundreds of pounds from a raffle and the money went to the hospice for its new therapy suites.

Mr Lockwood - who was married to Angela, 46, and had two sons, estate agent Matt, 21, and TNT worker Craig, 19 - had been at the hospice for seven weeks and had been told there was nothing more doctors could do for him.

He was born in Mendlesham, educated at Mendlesham Primary and Bacton Middle Schools and worked for TNT in Mendlesham, where he rose to become director.

Mr Lockwood was a big golf fan and Ipswich Town supporter and enjoyed a surprise visit when Blues stars Jason De Vos and Shefki Kuqi dropped in to see him at the hospice as part of a visit arranged by family friend, Simon Milton.

His funeral will take place from 2pm on January 10 at Mendlesham parish church. Anyone who would like to make a donation in his memory should make it to St Elizabeth's Hospice, c/o L Fulcher funeral directors, 58 Ipswich Street, Stowmarket.

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