The young walker who braved some of the winter’s worst weather to complete the Coast-to-Coast Walk for charity died yesterday.
Tom Buckley, who had cancer, died at his home in Comberbach, Cheshire on Wednesday, surrounded by his family. His effort raised more than £100,000 for Christie’s, the Manchester cancer-treatment centre. His original goal was to bring in just £500.
The 23-year-old battled not just snow, gales, rain and freezing conditions on the 309km (192-mile) trek from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire, but severe pain and exhaustion too due to his many medical complications.
Four years ago, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer – a result of earlier prolonged treatment for childhood retinoblastoma – cancer of the eye, which was diagnosed in 1985.
He said: “I had to have a knee and tibia replacement and various lung operations due to the cancer spreading. This means that I have problems walking long distances due to muscle removal and metal parts in my left knee.
“The cancer returned in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In September 2008 I was told that the cancer was now terminal as a tumour in the left side of my head cannot be operated on and because I have had too much chemotherapy and radiotherapy in my life, there was nothing more that could be done.
“I am having three weeks of small dose radiotherapy in October to try and slow the rate at which the tumour grows.”
Tom set out on his journey in November last year as some of the worst winter weather in decades hit the north of England. He was accompanied on the route by members of his family, including his father, his twin sister Jennifer, uncle and cousin and he was met in Robin Hood’s Bay by his mother who helped him empty the jar of Irish Sea water, which he carried with him, into the North Sea.
His resilience and good humour in adversity touched many and he became a media star on the route, as he was interviewed for television and came in for much attention from newspapers and magazines.
Jennifer posted the following about her brother: “We’ve had a long time to prepare for this but it was still extremely hard to say goodbye. He still had his sense of humour to the end.”
Tom’s aunt Janet Westlake, who lives in the USA, contacted grough. She said: “Tom sadly passed away yesterday. He still kept fighting to the end, such a fantastic, selfless young man. What a legacy he left behind.”
Tom’s justgiving page is still open for donations.