What began as a one-off event in memory of keen fisherman Nick Clark, of West Park, with a modest fundraising target of £2,000 will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary, having raised many more thousands for charity.
More than 75 keen anglers have already signed up to this year’s event which will be held later this year at Lindholme Lakes in Doncaster - the last place Nick fished before he died aged 48 on June 14 2011 - a year to the day since his diagnosis of lung cancer.
His devastated wife, Rose, and children Alex and Lisa, who were teenagers at the time, along with Rose’s brother Steve Akal, 61, went on to organise the Nick Clark Memorial Charity Fishing Match as a way of giving back to the cancer services at St James’s Hospital, where Nick was treated.
Rose, 57, said when it became it apparent that Nick was in his final few weeks, the hospital teams, together with MacMillan Cancer Support and his GP, swung into action to allow him to come home.
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“I couldn’t have done it without them, nothing was too much trouble.
“We wanted to contribute to this valuable and supportive charity and help others receive the same level of care.”
Nick had been told the devastating news his cancer was terminal when he was first diagnosed after scans showed it had already spread to his liver and chest cavity.
After several sessions of chemotherapy, aimed at prolonging his life, he was appearing to make good progress - until he began to display some worrying new symptoms.
Rose said: “He would forget to put things down, returning to the living room with a cup he had taken to the kitchen.
“In February 2011 it was confirmed the cancer had spread to his brain.”
Sadly a serious seizure at home saw Nick admitted back to hospital where the family were told he had six weeks left to live.
“He wanted to come home and we wanted him to come home. So I asked the consultant and he said ‘let’s see what we can do to try to support this’.”
Rose said a meeting was quickly called and support plan put in place to allow Nick to come home.
“We had a hospital bed delivered and all sorts of equipment. He actually died three-and-a-half weeks later but the support we had from them was incredible. They organised everything.”
The memorial match was initially held in aid of the Yorkshire Cancer Centre but funds will now go towards cancer services via the recently-renamed Leeds Hospital Charity.
Anglers who sign up to take part must find a minimum of £25 sponsorship and money is also raised on the day through a tombola, raffle and barbecue.
Rose said: “The fishermen come out to support us and we always get about 50 anglers - this year we have 75.
“We also have a novice section for people who want to try it.
“People enjoy it. The fishermen need to raise a minimum of £25 to fish but we get people who raise a lot more - we’ve had some raise up to £400-£500.”
She said Nick would have been “blown away” by the success of the charity fishing match in his honour.
“Nick would be immensely proud of all that we have achieved in his name.
“He faced cancer and death with courage and dignity and would wish others to be supported in the same caring way that he and his family were.”
This year’s Nick Clark Memorial Fishing Match charity match will take place on Saturday July 3. For more information visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nickclarkmemorialmatch/
To donate to the cause, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steve-akal2.