Posted on Tuesday 13 July 2021

in News

‘Bradley’s Perfect Day’: Family and friends set to celebrate young man’s life at fundraiser full of his favourite things

On Thursday 22 July, friends and family of Bradley Coombes, who sadly died at 23-years-old on February 19 2021, will gather to celebrate his life and raise money for charity at the pub where he used to work, The Ship in Langstone. A charity football match, made up of two teams Bradley used to play for, will also take place on Saturday 17 July. Bradley’s Mum, Caroline, has set out to raise £23,000 over the next year for charities who supported Bradley after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2019.

The day, on 22 July, has been named ‘Bradley’s Perfect Day’ as it will be full of all of his favourite things; football, a BBQ, music, all at the pub he loved to work at. It would have been his perfect day. Before then, on Saturday 17 July, the pub will host a charity football match between the pub’s football team and The Castle, both teams that Bradley used to play for. The money raised across the two days will go towards the £23,000 target for Young Lives vs Cancer, the UK’s leading cancer charity for young people, who supported Bradley throughout treatment.

Bradley, Caroline’s Mum, spoke about the event: “It’s called ‘Bradley’s perfect day’ because it’s absolutely Bradley’s perfect day, he loved BBQs, we had so many last summer because he was at home and he loved them. Football was the passion of his life so we’ve got a football match, he loved working there so that’s why it’s at the Ship.”

Bradley was diagnosed with bowel cancer just before Christmas 2019, at 22 years old. The keen footballer had been going back and forth to the doctors for over two years with stomach problems. It had gotten so bad that he struggled to travel into work on the train and wasn’t able to continue playing football, which he loved to do.

Mum, Caroline, said: “His stomach started to play up to the point where he was on the train and he couldn’t stay on the train any longer because he had such an upset stomach that had developed into bleeding. This time, the doctor took him quite seriously. She noticed he’d been coming backwards and forwards with stomach problems so she said ‘let’s take some bloods just in case’.

“By the end of the week he got a phone call from the doctors to say his iron was very low so she wants to see him back. Then she referred him for a colonoscopy…He didn’t get his colonoscopy until about five weeks after that initial blood test. It was just a mess, it really was… They couldn’t get the camera any further because it was so blocked up by tumour.”

On 17 December 2019, Bradley and his Mum Caroline were told the devastating news that Bradley had stage 4 bowel cancer. He was rushed into surgery the following day but sadly, after over a year of treatment, Bradley died at home on 19 February 2021.

Caroline said: “He wouldn’t entertain it, he wouldn’t accept it. The only time he accepted it, was on the 19th of February, that morning. He just looked at me and said to me ‘mum I can’t do this anymore’… And 14 hours later, he was gone.”

After months of being in and out of hospital, often on his own because of coronavirus restrictions, Bradley died at home with his Mum, Dad, Grandmother, girlfriend Alice and dog, Buster, by his side.

Bradley had a positive impact on so many people, which Caroline said was clear to see on the day of his funeral as friends, family, work colleagues and pupils at his old schools lined the streets.

“We went off to the crematorium but we went past both his old schools and all the staff from his junior school were out clapping and there were at least 300 people from the school I work at, which was Bradley’s old school, all stood out on the road clapping and flags were flying, there were flowers all on the walls.”

Unfortunately, due to coronavirus restrictions, only 30 people could attend Bradley’s funeral ceremony, which is why Caroline has organised ‘Bradley’s Perfect Day’. She said it will be a chance for local friends and family to gather together and celebrate Bradley’s life by doing all of the things he loved to do.

Bradley was a keen footballer, he played for the Ship’s staff team as well as the Old Corinthians in Kingston. He loved to play and even tried his best during treatment too.

“When he was diagnosed, or even before that, he wasn’t able to play anymore…But he always believed he was going to play football again, but he never did. He did try, I’m not going to lie even though he was told not to, he did try to play football as a youngster would.”

As well as celebrating Bradley’s life, the event will be raising money for Young Lives vs Cancer, a charity who support young people with cancer like Bradley. When Bradley was diagnosed, he had to stop work and suddenly had no income of his own. His Young Lives vs Cancer social worker, Kate  was able to help Bradley access grants so he had money of his own. She also helped him to digest the information he was being given at the hospital, and was a support to Mum, Caroline, too.

“She was also tapping into grants to keep him going because he had no income from the end of January 2020. He had four or five days in bed then he’d be up, out, meeting his mates and then he’d spend the week trying to live a normal young life, a 22-year-old’s life and then he’d go back to chemo.

“Young Lives vs Cancer just gave him independence and dignity by getting him money so he had some money to buy me a Mother’s Day present, so he had money to go out for a drink with his friends – he didn’t drink a lot because of chemo but he had independence, he didn’t have to keep asking me to top him up with money along with everything else.”

Liz Blunt, Young Lives vs Cancer Fundraising and Engagement Manager for Hampshire said:

“It’s devastating that Bradly passed away at such a young age from cancer and my thoughts are with Caroline and Bradley’s family and friends. It’s incredibly moving looking at Bradley’s much loved page as the comments just show how popular and much loved Bradley was. I was in touch with Bradley previously as he even set up a Facebook fundraiser for his last Birthday so kindly. I am full of admiration for Caroline and family for carrying on Bradley’s wishes to raise funds to support children and young people with cancer and we are extremely grateful to them for their support. It’s so important that we are there for families at such a harrowing time and really appreciate Caroline’s kindness.”

Caroline has set herself the goal of raising £23,000 this year, before what would have been Bradley’s 24th birthday on 2 April, for the charity. As well as Bradley’s Perfect Day and the charity football match, Caroline will be joining a group of friends to take part in a skydive in September.

To donate in memory of Bradley, please visit the family’s fundraising page here: https://bradleycoombes.muchloved.com/ or www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bradleycoombes or or

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information, an interview or images, please contact Emma Gibbons on 07932 666163 or email emma.gibbons@younglivesvscancer.org.uk

About cancer in children and young people

Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About Young Lives vs Cancer

When a child is diagnosed with cancer life becomes full of fear, for them and their family. Fear of treatment but also of families being torn apart, overwhelming money worries, of having nowhere to turn to, no one to talk to.

Young Lives vs Cancer is the charity that helps children and young people (0-25) and their families find the strength to face whatever cancer throws at them. The charity’s social workers offer specialist, empowering support, its Homes from Home offer families a free place to stay nearby to the child’s hospital and grants help families to navigate the costs of cancer. We’ve been there before. We’ll face it all, together.

For more information visit www.younglivesvscancer.org.uk

Note to sub editors

Always use our name in full: Young Lives vs Cancer and write it with only the Y, L and C capitalised. But don’t capitalise ‘vs’.

‘Young Lives vs Cancer’ should be not be abbreviated – it’s not “Young Lives” for short, nor “YLvC”

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