A couple who tragically lost their teenage son to cancer have been nominated for a prestigious award after raising almost £120,000 through a fund they set up with bone cancer charity, Bone Cancer Research Trust.
Mike and Louise Ashton of Harrogate are in the running for ‘Fundraiser of the Year’ in the popular Yorkshire Choice Awards following 12 months’ of intensive campaigning, all whilst coping with the loss of their son, 14-year-old Frank Ashton.
The husband and wife duo set up their own charity, Frank’s Fund shortly after Frank passed away in January 2019 after losing his life to Ewing Sarcoma – a type of cancerous tumour that forms in bone or soft tissue.
Ewing sarcoma most commonly affects children and young adults aged 10-25 years old and makes up about 1.5% of all childhood cancers. A child, teenager or adult is diagnosed with primary bone cancer every 10 minutes, but primary bone cancer received just 0.04% of funding from the major UK cancer charities in 2017/18 and shockingly their investment in the disease dropped by 43% to a 16-year low.
Hoping to raise vital funds for life saving research into the disease, the duo organised a variety of activities throughout the district including a ‘Bake for Frank’ bake sale on what would have been Frank’s 15th birthday, cinema events for Frank’s friends and sponsored walks, cycle rides and runs, as well as designing and selling Frank’s Fund Christmas cards and wristbands.
Through active campaigning across their social media platforms, they have also been able to enlist the support of the local and wider communities who have held fundraising events in Frank’s name.
In July 2019, Frank’s school, St Aidan’s High School in Harrogate, held a sponsored walk raising over £25,000 for the charity. Harrogate Town Football Club also held a football match in Frank’s honour, where Frank’s friends were invited to take part in the Guard of Honour.
Other individuals have completed challenges such as the Great North Run, the Jurassic Coast Challenge and Sussex Downs Walk, all in the name of Frank’s Fund. Local micro-brewery, Cold Bath Brewery has launched a beer in Frank’s name; To Be Frank, whilst The Little Ale House in Harrogate has brewed a beer from hops that they’ve grown, with 50p a pint going to Frank’s Fund.
Commenting on their nomination, Louise Ashton said:
It’s great to be recognised for our hard work but it’s not about us; it’s about Frank and about raising money to research Ewing sarcoma in the hope that other young people won’t have to go through what Frank went through.It is a terrible time for us but the support of the community and what we have been able to achieve has helped us focus on achieving something positive form this dreadful tragedy.
Louise has recently returned to work at a local charity, the Association for Perioperative Practice, but with the support of the charity and members of the community she and Mike will continue to raise vital funds for much needed research.