Matthew's Fundraising Story

My Mum died on 19th April 2020 after a near 35-year battle with cancer. During this time, she had fought and beat it 4 times. Unfortunately, on this last occasion, an unfair combination of breast, lung, brain and spinal cancer was just one step to far.

She was admitted to Bolton Hospice for the last month of her life during the height of the COVID pandemic. During this time, she contracted COVID, but successfully fought this also off despite her other illness’.

However, the impact of COVID meant that visitors weren’t allowed at the hospice for a period of time and she was wholly reliant on the doctors and nurses at the hospice for company and care. They not only did a fantastic and professional job in relation to the care and
comfort that they provided in a work capacity for Mum during her final days, but to some extent they were also her family whilst we couldn’t get in to see her.

Nothing was too much trouble for the nurses, we had regular facetime calls with Mum, shared some great moments and even had a couple of Elvis Karaoke sessions with her and the staff. This was all happening during a period of what was a truly sad time, but also a worrying and confusing one for everyone due to the pandemic.

One week before her passing, I was speaking to Mum over facetime and she was telling the nurse about my previous Ironman events, she then announced without telling me, “He’s going to do another one to raise money for Bolton Hospice!”, quickly followed by a “You will do it, won’t you love?!” How can you refuse that?! She didn’t actually know that I’d secretly entered the Ironman UK event anyway as I knew 2020 would be the last time that she could see me race.

Fortunately, due to the nurses and wonderful staff at Bolton Hospice, I did get to see Mum before she died and was there with her when her suffering ended on 19th April 2020, playing her Elvis songs on my phone and just talking to her as she slipped away.

Her last few days in this world weren’t unhappy or lonely ones and she had some fantastic fun with the staff right up until the end. Their care of Mum during this time was exemplary and their understanding, support and assistance with our family will never be

With the 2020 Ironman UK event being cancelled due to COVID, I set my sights on the 4th July 2021, that was the date set for the 2021 event in Bolton. Unfortunately, 3 weeks from the start of the race, I hit a pothole on the bike course during a training ride and suffered some serious injuries that required surgery and prevented me from participating that year. This was soul-destroying after training for over 9 months and then worrying if I could ever return from these injuries to be able to race again and fulfil my promise to Mum.

Like my Mum, I’m not a quitter, and my family owe Bolton Hospice a great deal. So despite extensive recuperation and rehabilitation, I managed to get myself back into shape to allow me to participate at Ironman UK on the 3rd July 2022. As a tribute to my Mum, (my biggest inspiration) and as a Thank You to Bolton Hospice and all its staff, I followed through on that promise I made to her during her final days and competed in Ironman UK on behalf of the hospice, to raise some money for this fantastic organisation as a small token of thanks for what they did for my Mum and our family.

Matthew Pemrick