Alfie, the son of Andy Bills a specification manager at National Ventilation, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2019 at just three years of age. With the family gaining support both emotionally and financially from Young Lives vs Cancer at such a difficult time, Alfie’s father, Andy began fundraising for the charity forming Alfie’s Army. To add to this fundraising National Ventilation then stepped in to support the charity too as part of a group-wide initiative, which named Young Lives vs Cancer as its charity of the year and has so far raised £5,766.
National Ventilation and its group have undertaken a variety of fundraising activities for Young Lives vs Cancer with a number of highlights during the year including both Easter and Halloween bake sales, where staff baked a range of delicious cakes. Sponsored walks, including the 25K South Coast Challenge walking from Eastbourne to Alfriston in East Sussex, and the Young Lives vs Cancer Challenge 60 virtual event for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, where participants were challenged to jog, run, cycle, walk or swim 60 miles. Charity raffles and tuck shops across the group have also added valuable funds to the total raised.
Alfie was diagnosed in May 2019 and has undergone a very intense, relentless regime of chemotherapy for three and a half years. After going into remission in September 2019, Alfie entered a three-year maintenance phase where Alfie continued with chemotherapy to help ensure the aggressive cancer doesn’t return. This has been an immensely difficult time for the Bills family. Alfie’s suppressed immune system means keeping Alfie safe and well has been hugely challenging and the family has had to avoid shops, restaurants, play gyms, kids parties – anywhere enclosed with people in. Chemotherapy also has many side effects from sickness, tiredness, insomnia, and joint pain.
Thankfully Alfie’s last treatment was in September 2022 and his life has begun turning around. His energy levels have increased and his anxiety has eased. Alfie now attends a football club organised by Inclusive Sport which is helping him with his social skills and relationship building. Alfie also loves anything that involves animals and being outside.
“Alfie’s last three and a half years have been an absolute rollercoaster and we’ve been on a journey which can only be described as horrendous. Keeping him safe, especially with COVID, has been such a challenge. But now that Alfie has finished chemotherapy, we have seen a massive change and he is enjoying life. He loves visiting zoos, farms and woodland walks and just being a normal little boy”, said Andy Bills. “I’m so grateful for the help we have received from Young Lives vs Cancer throughout our journey. They’ve supported us both emotionally and financially during this very tough time. Through our fundraising we have been able to give something back to this amazing charity.”
Speaking on behalf of Young Lives vs Cancer, Rose Bailey, Fundraising Engagement Manager, said: “We’re delighted that Alfie has finished his treatment and is enjoying life to the full. We’re also very grateful for the fundraising by Alfie’s Army and National Ventilation. Thanks to their excellent efforts, young people facing cancer, and their families, won’t have to face cancer alone. Thank you so much to Andy and to everyone at National Ventilation for your amazing support!”
“National Ventilation is delighted to support Young Lives vs Cancer as its charity of the year to raise funds to support children and young people and their families in their fight against cancer,” said Robin Francis, Managing Director at National Ventilation. “At National Ventilation we have seen first-hand how Young Lives vs Cancer helps young people and their families. The charity has supported Alfie and his family throughout their journey as well Matt Dyer who works at the company who also had cancer as a child, so we know just how important the work of this charity is.”
Young Lives vs Cancer (formerly CLIC Sargent) is a cancer charity for children and young people that is solely funded by donations. The charity helps families find the strength to face whatever cancer throws at them. Every day, 12 more children and young people hear the devastating news that they have cancer. The £120 raised will help towards the charity continuing to fight for children and young people with cancer.
For example, £15 could pay towards a social worker to support a recently diagnosed young person; £38 could pay for a family to stay in one of the charity’s Homes from Home near the hospital and £100 could pay towards a financial grant to ensure families facing money worries can pay for basics like food.
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, no one to talk to. Young Lives vs Cancer helps families find the strength to face whatever cancer throws at them. Powered by the kindness of their supporters, they face it all together. Visit www.younglivesvscancer.org.uk to find out more.
To donate to Alfie’s Army visit: Andrew Bills is fundraising for Young Lives vs Cancer (justgiving.com)