‘He was a fighter right the way through’ - Taverham teenagers who lost friend to cancer organise gamerthon
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
Four teenagers who lost their friend to cancer have raised over a thousand pounds for charity with a 24-hour Playstation gamerthon.
So far, the boys, who went to school with 17-year-old Matthew Long at Taverham High, have raised more than £1,100 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, smashing their £350 target.
Jacob Mills, Felix Mills, Henry Forwood and Tyler Floyd embarked on their 24-hour gaming marathon at midday on Saturday 9 January, playing FIFA, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto non-stop until 12pm the following day.
These were games the boys had played with Matthew before he died and they agreed with their friend to go ahead with the fundraiser shortly before he lost his battle with cancer.
The youngest of the gamers, 13-year-old Felix Mills, set up an online stream of the event so their friends could watch the action live, as they sent donations to the boys' JustGiving page.
Felix is now planning to dye his hair pink, honouring a bold pledge he made on the fundraising page if the boys reached the £1,000-mark.
His brother Jacob, who knew Matthew from the age of four, said: 'His personality was just so individual and brilliant. He was someone to be good around.'
In November last year Matthew lost a nine-month battle with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare cancer that develops in the network of vessels and glands known as the lymphatic system.
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His father, Stephen Long, said: 'He was a very strong lad. He never complained about anything and he was a fighter right the way through.'
Mr Long was also full of praise for the Teenage Cancer Trust, whose dedicated unit for 14-24-year-olds Matthew was staying in at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
'It's like a home from home for them,' said Mr Long. 'And the staff up there are absolutely incredible. We've had so much support from them.'
The unit is specially designed for teenagers and includes games consoles, laptops and a soundproofed room so that patients can play music as loud as they like.
This was perfect for Matthew who was a talented electric guitarist, winning his school's talent show in July last year.
Speaking at Matthew's funeral at the beginning of December, Paul Rapley, an assistant head teacher at Taverham High School, said: 'Matt will be remembered at Taverham for his kindness, his humour and his talent.
'If there's a heaven – and I believe there is – it just got a little bit funnier and a whole lot noisier.
'Students speak universally of Matt's kindness and friendliness. He mixed with everyone and was liked by everyone, at ease in any company.
While in hospital Matthew was visited by his school friends and the school even set up Skype calls from his hospital bed.
In addition to the young gamers' project, there will be several other fundraisers for Matthew in the coming months.
One of his father's work colleagues is organising a 50-mile bike ride from Norwich to Holt and then back again on 7 February, and his mother will be running the Muddy Race at Norfolk Showground in May.
Taverham High School has also launched a campaign that is close to reaching four figures in donations. All proceeds will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust.