Press Release posted 21 September 2023

In an extraordinary display of courage and determination,10-year-old Lily Heywood from Buxton has taken on a monumental task to raise funds for The Christie hospital, that provided life-saving care for her dad, Matt Heywood.

Matt underwent major surgery to prevent further spread of melanoma, followed by 12 months of treatment for skin cancer, which had spread to his lymph nodes. He also bravely volunteered for a clinical trial aimed at advancing early melanoma detection, through blood tests.

Once he’d been given the ‘all clear’, Matt - a kitchen designer - was inspired to give back to the hospital that had treated him. To do this, he set himself the huge task of raising money for The Christie Charity by completing the Spanish Three Peaks – a trek through 3 of Spain’s highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada National Park which he completed last weekend.

From there, Matt decided to take on ‘The Christie Challenge’ to complete 6 different fundraising activities over the year with each activity raising at least £60. Each time a fundraising activity is completed fundraisers receive a medal to mark the achievement. And when all 6 fundraising challenges have been completed, all 6 medals fit together like a jigsaw to make the famous rainbow Christie embrace. 

Matt and Lily Heywood
Caption: Matt and Lily Heywood

As part of this, Matt ran a half marathon and brought his daughter Lily with him, which struck a chord with her, as Matt explained, “Lily was so absorbed with the energy of the whole event. She loved every minute of it and asked me on the way home on the train, ‘Daddy what can I do to help?’.”

So, from then Lily signed up to do her own Christie Challenge combined with the ’60 for The Christie’ which is a fundraising initiative aimed at young people and schools challenging children to take part in an activity of their choice, involving the number 60. This unique challenge symbolises the average distance that a patient travels in the UK for cancer treatment.

It didn’t take long for Lily to come up with some incredible fundraising ideas. She set her own fundraising targets of completing 60 miles of running (which was 540 laps of her playground), 60-miles biking, swimming 60 lengths, hiking 60 miles, climbing Mount Snowdon (3,560ft) and has smashed them all! She is now preparing for the final challenge next Thursday 28 September, which is a 5K run at MediaCityUK and starts at 7pm.

Matt is now in remission and couldn’t be prouder of Lily’s commitment and tenacity. As Matt says, “Her grit and determination has brought me to tears. Her school, St Anne’s Primary School in Buxton donated £100 as they were so blown away by Lily’s positive attitude and stamina.”

As the completion of ‘The Christie Challenge’ approaches, Lily is gearing up for her final fundraising activity - the 5K run at MediaCityUK taking in the sights of The Lowry Theatre, The Imperial War Museum and the BBC and ITV Studios. Matt’s parents, plus Lily’s mum, Nikki and younger sister Maya are all hoping to be there to cheer them both on, and to see Lily receive her special Christie Challenge jigsaw medal.

Josh Hughff from The Christie Charity says: “Lily is an absolute star. We are so impressed with the fundraising challenges she has set herself.

“Her determination and commitment to support The Christie Charity is amazing. Lily has a tenacity and determination way beyond her years. We couldn’t be more thankful for the support from Lily and her dad Matt.”

To date Lily and Matt have raised over £6,000.

Last updated: September 2023