July 31 2014 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Friday, June 28, 2013
When Norfolk schoolteacher Phil McComish heard his friend Paul De Naeyer’s bone cancer had become terminal and he only had a year to live, the news was devastating enough.
But worse still was to follow when Mr De Naeyer, 40, who is also a teacher, told the 39-year-old head of physics at Langley School in Loddon he had been made redundant by his employer Emmanuel College in Letchworth and faced an uncertain financial future.
So father-of-two Mr McComish decided to take action to try and help his friend, who he met while teaching in Kuwait, after failing to find a charity that could offer support for Mr De Naeyer, who now has only been given between three and six months to live.
He started by setting up a link on his Facebook page to a fundraising page for his friend at www.gofundme.com/2g5n9g, unsure how many hits he would attract, but said the page had been visited more than 7,000 times and more than £26,000 had been raised.
And on Sunday he took part in a special golf marathon with his friend Dave Leese to raise further money for the De Naeyers, which involved completing four 18 hole rounds of a course at Wokefield Park Hotel near Reading in a day that lasted from 5am until 9pm.
Mr McComish praised the generosity of ordinary members of the golf course who had willingly come forward with donations of £10 or more to the fundraising appeal.
He said staff and pupils at Emmanuel College had also been very supportive of the appeal, with the students alone donating more that £5,000 through the gofundme page.
The college’s decision to make Mr De Naeyer redundant is not related to his cancer and Mr McComish said the college had been very supportive of his friend over the last three years, even though his deteriorating health meant he had to work reduced hours.
“When I set up the gofundme page, I was just absolutely blown away by the response.
“I thought £10,000 would be unrealistically high number to go far, but we raised £10,000 in four days, which was incredible and we are now on target for £31,000,” he said.
The friends met when they moved to the Gulf state to teach at the New English School near Kuwait City in 1998 and found they shared similar interests and sense of humour.
Their families have remained close since and Mr McComish was best man when his friend married Ruth 12 years ago.
Mr De Naeyer, who has sons Daniel, 10 and Jacob, eight, was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, which became terminal despite chemotherapy.
“This all started in April when I spoke to him to keep in touch with how things were going. He said they had stopped the treatment and given him less than a year to go. Then he said he had been made redundant as well.
“He said ‘I am a teacher or a teacher’ and for the last few years we are going to be counting the pennies, so I thought I would organise a golf day to give him a few pounds to get the shopping for a couple of months,” Mr McComish added.