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Major milestone for John and Sandra Reeve after raising £500k in son’s memory

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 December 2017

John and Sandra Reeve pictured during their Great Wall of China trek in 2016. Picture: JOHN REEVE

John and Sandra Reeve pictured during their Great Wall of China trek in 2016. Picture: JOHN REEVE

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Losing a child is not something any parent wants to contemplate.

Tim Reeve, who died after a battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005. Picture: REEVE FAMILY Tim Reeve, who died after a battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005. Picture: REEVE FAMILY

But for Sandra and John Reeve, it is something they not only had to think about, they faced it head on and then had to learn to live without their youngest son, Tim.

The keen sportsman died after a brave three-year battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005, he was just 23.

However, despite their devastation and heartache, the couple from Wickham Bishops, near Witham in Essex, - along with Tim’s brother Dan - have spent the past 12 years channelling their grief into making a difference and supporting other young people with blood cancer.

This year their fundraising for the Tim Reeve Charitable Trust has broken the £500,000 mark.

John and Sandra Reeve. Picture: GREGG BROWN John and Sandra Reeve. Picture: GREGG BROWN

HR Consultant John, 64, explained the milestone was reached with mixed emotions. After holding ten fundraising events in Tim’s memory in 2016, they had hoped to break it then.

He said: “We had Ten for Tim and we were really pushing to get there by the end of the year, and we just missed it.

“We were really, really close and we had a great year, we’d done an awful lot and we were pleased, but there was a tinge of disappointment we missed the target.”

But at the turn of this year some extra donations came in and there was an unexpected contribution, which boosted the cause significantly.

John and Tim Reeve pictured together in London where Tim was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Picture: REEVE FAMILY John and Tim Reeve pictured together in London where Tim was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Picture: REEVE FAMILY

After Sandra’s father died in the New Year he left a £2,000 gift in his will to all seven of his children, which unbeknown to John and Sandra, he had changed to include the Tim Reeve Charitable Trust.

It was that £2,000 which, poignantly, tipped their fundraising over the half a million mark.

John added: “It was really fitting and a lovely tribute to Sandra’s dad, and also to Tim, that it happened in that way.”

After more than a decade of intense fundraising, John admitted he and Sandra, 65, who retired from a long career in teaching in the summer, were exhausted and intentionally decided to “take it easy” in 2017 after completing a Great Wall of China trek at the end of last year.

John Reeve, pictured left, with a group of fundraisers who joined him on the Trust's first national Three Peaks 24 hour challenge in 2007. Picture: REEVE FAMILY John Reeve, pictured left, with a group of fundraisers who joined him on the Trust's first national Three Peaks 24 hour challenge in 2007. Picture: REEVE FAMILY

It has given them time to reflect on their achievements though.

John added: “You do think ‘wow, that’s made a difference’ in terms of helping other people with blood cancer and that’s a nice feeling.

“We’re really pleased we have done that in Tim’s name. We do feel quite proud.”

The couple have already done so much, but they don’t intend to stop now. Work is already under way for two major events in 2018: the Essex Dragon Boat World Cup on July 1 in Chelmsford, and a charity golf day at Ufford Park, Woodbridge, on September 27.

Tim Reeve died after a brave battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005. Picture: REEVE FAMILY Tim Reeve died after a brave battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005. Picture: REEVE FAMILY

John said: “We meet people and hear stories and get inspired by what other people are doing, and what they are going through so the battery gets recharged in unexpected ways.

“We’re not setting another target, we will take it more year by year and do as much as we can, but just keep going as it’s the journey as well as the destination that’s important.

“Every day people are getting diagnosed and every day people are dying - saving lives is the number one priority.”

The bulk of funds raised by the Trust are put towards research and designated projects which are looking into better ways to treat blood cancers, and treatments which are less toxic - the side effects of chemotheraphy can be extremely severe and were something Tim struggled with.

John and Sandra Reeve set up the Tim Reeve Charitable Trust after they lost their son Tim to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005. Picture: GREGG BROWN John and Sandra Reeve set up the Tim Reeve Charitable Trust after they lost their son Tim to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005. Picture: GREGG BROWN

John is now a board member at national charity Bloodwise, he is also a patient cancer representative on the National Cancer Advisory Group, the East of England Cancer Alliance and locally, he is on the board of the Mid and South Essex STP (sustainability and transformation partnerships).

John, who admits he “doesn’t have a choice” and has needed the charity work to get him through the toughest years of his life, has paid tribute to his son and what he would make of his family’s tireless work.

“Tim had a no nonsense, get on with it exterior, but was kind and sensitive with those he loved,” he said.

“He would have hated the photographs and promoting that comes with fundraising, but would have been quietly proud that the money raised is helping other people to get on with their lives.

The Tim Reeve Charitable Trust has held four dragon boat race tournaments in Chelmsford, which always get competitive. The next one will be held in July 2018. Picture: JOHN REEVE The Tim Reeve Charitable Trust has held four dragon boat race tournaments in Chelmsford, which always get competitive. The next one will be held in July 2018. Picture: JOHN REEVE

“For me it’s my way of coping, even now, with the fact that I have lost my son - I have to do it.”

For more information or to register an interest in next year’s events, email john.reeve22@btinternet.com

How the money’s been raised

John and Sandra Reeve have held five Forget Me Not walks around the Blackwater Estuary since setting up the Tim Reeve Charitable Trust. Picture: JOHN REEVE John and Sandra Reeve have held five Forget Me Not walks around the Blackwater Estuary since setting up the Tim Reeve Charitable Trust. Picture: JOHN REEVE

* Walk to the World Cup

* Charity dinner and auction

* Forget Me Not Walk x 5

* Deca-Ironman to the Rugby World Cup

* Coast to Coast bike ride x 3

* Benton Hall fun day

* National 3 Peaks Challenge x 2

* Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

* London to Paris bike ride x 2

* Barn dance x 4

* Dragon Boat Racing x 4

* Hero of Hamelin bike ride

* Golf day and charity dinner x 2

* Quiz night x 2

* Great Wall of China trek

* Ride London 100 Mile

* Mini mud race

This list, although extensive, is not exhaustive and does not include the many other challenges and events people have organised and taken part in over the years to raise money to help the couple’s cause.

As of December 2017, the Trust has raised £507,347.

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