A Hindley man is bracing himself for a year of charity challenges to raise money for The Christie charity as a thank you for treating his twin brother.

Stewart Roper, aged 47, was devastated when his twin brother Ady, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in January this year. Ady, is currently receiving immunotherapy treatment at The Christie every 3 weeks to try and reduce the cancer and extend his life expectancy.

Upon hearing his brother’s diagnosis, Stewart decided immediately he wanted to do something to support Ady and thank the hospital – so, along with life-long family friend Gary Robinson, Stewart has embarked on The Christie Challenge – a pledge to complete 6 different fundraising activities over the year to earn a fabulous jigsaw medal featuring the rainbow Christie embrace.

Over the course of 12 months, Stewart and Gary will undertake a series of events to complete The Christie Challenge, including a trek up Scafell Pike, a car boot sale, a bake sale, a Christmas sleigh run, a Bush Tucker Trial and a Hindley Green to Blackpool bike ride. 

Stewart, who works managing technical audits at food manufacturer AB World Foods in Leigh alongside Ady, said: “Ady thought he was suffering from a cold as he’d been a bit run down and he knew he didn’t have COVID, but he was sadly diagnosed with a 20cm tumour on his kidney which had also spread to his lungs. My first thoughts and feelings were disbelief, shock, anger and sadness that all his future dreams and plans that he had been so looking forward to would not be a given, and that my nephew, his 21-year-old son Lewis, would be left without his father."

Pictured left to right are Stewart Roper, Ady Roper and Gary Robinson

Both Stewart and Ady have a strong connection with The Christie. As well as Ady receiving treatment, their 82-year-old father was a nurse at The Christie in the 80s, and was also treated there himself a number of years ago.

He said: “We wanted to do something to help, and when Ady began his treatment at The Christie, it was the obvious cause to support.

“My friends and I had always supported the work of The Christie, through charitable events, most recently through our local pub, The Spinners Arms in Hindley Green as our friends who own the pub have both been affected by cancer recently, one terminally.”

“A few weeks after Ady’s diagnosis, we heard about The Christie Challenge and Gary and myself decided to sign up for the challenges, giving us a focus to raise valuable funds for such a valuable life changing place. We have named our team #TeamAdy.

Stewart added: “When deciding the 6 challenges we wanted a mix of challenges that would appeal to a wide range of people, but also a mix of challenges where people could join in to support and us and not just be forced to sponsor us.

“When I told Ady that we planned to do this, his response was ‘you can pick your challenges, I can’t’, which really gave me a reality check and the determination to succeed, not only in The Christie Challenge, but in supporting Ady through his own personal treatment challenges and ensuring he receives the best possible care.”

Stewart and Gary start their huge fundraising drive in June with a climb up England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

The Christie Challenge is to complete 6 different fundraising activities over the year. Whether people want to do a sponsored run, organise a bake sale or host an online quiz night, everyone can get involved. And with fundraising income down by more than a quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Christie charity is encouraging as many people as possible to join in. Anyone who completes the challenge will earn a fabulous jigsaw medal featuring the rainbow Christie embrace.

Beth Hill, a community fundraising co-ordinator at The Christie charity, said: “We’re delighted Stewart and Gary are completing The Christie Challenge to honour Ady’s cancer treatment at The Christie. It is a great way for our fundraisers to support our cause over the course of the next 12 months and we’d love for as many people to get involved as possible as we get out fundraising back on track after COVID-19.”

The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top 3 trusts overall in England.