A Smallthorne man who tragically died after a short battle with cancer has donated his legacy to the hospital that cared for him.
Lee Merchant was 48 when he passed away following a diagnosis of cancer in his spine which had spread to his lungs.
The father and grandfather chose to leave his residuary estate to cancer services at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
His family made the donation to members of cancer staff from University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) and UHNM Charity.
Lee’s Dad Frank said: “Lee was very happy-go-lucky, nothing ever worried him and he never took life too seriously. He was very hard working and worked in the pottery industry most of his life.
“One day we had a phone call from his boss at work saying he was bringing him home as Lee had bent over and felt a crack in his back. After a couple of days rest he was soon back at work.
“However he started developing pains in his chest along with high blood pressure and was later diagnosed with cancer in his spine that had spread to his lungs. We were given the news that it was terminal and with a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy he would survive two to three years.
“Lee didn’t want to know the full extent of his diagnosis, but doctors believed he had the cancer for two years prior to this.”
Further scans showed the cancer had spread to his stomach and kidneys.
Frank added: “Lee was slowly going downhill. He couldn’t eat and was becoming very thin. Whilst undergoing cancer treatment at and waiting for a bronchoscopy to determine a further course of action, he had two fits and was rushed to Royal Stoke. We were told to expect the worst. We only had eight months with Lee from diagnosis until he passed. He was so brave, he never complained once.”
Lee had said he wanted the £25,782 left in his estate to benefit the experience of fellow cancer patients at UHNM.
Speaking about Lee’s will, Frank said: “It was a very short conversation actually we had in his flat. We think he had guessed what was happening to him and he told me when I go that the staff had been brilliant with him and he wanted everything he’d got going to the cancer ward where he had his treatment.”
His family are keeping his memory alive by holding ‘Lee’s Day’ an annual fundraising event at Ball Green Working Men’s Club.
“We held our first event this year at the club raising £2,300. It was organised superbly by Lee’s brother Karl and his fiancé Zowie, and featured a darts tournament and auction, bouncy castle and face painting. Churchill China, where Lee worked, have also hosted a collection in his memory as has the Foresters pub in Smallthorne, where he was a regular.”
Frank made the donation to UHNM staff along with Lee’s mum Dot, brother Karl and aunt Lynn.
Lisa Thomson, Director of Communications and Charity at UHNM said: “We are so incredible grateful to both Lee and his family for this incredible donation which will make a difference to so many patients and staff at UHNM. I’d like to thank the family also for allowing us to share their story and I’m sure this will be the start of a long-lasting relationship.
“By leaving a legacy to UHNM Charity, Lee has ensured patients using our services have the best possible care and experience.”
If you are thinking of including UHNM Charity in your Will, please contact the charity team to discuss your plans on 01782 676444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walk, Run, Swim, Cycle
Are you interested in raising money for the charity and need to know what your next steps are?