Grandson takes on table tennis marathon for Southend Hospital Macmillan team

A Leigh-on-Sea grandmother who received support from the Macmillan team at Southend Hospital was brought close to tears when her grandson told her he was taking on a mammoth fundraising challenge to say thank you for the support she received following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Brenda Way, 76, tracked grandson Luke Cunningham’s progress through Facebook Live as he played table tennis for 26 hours straight at the weekend, raising over £3,500 to support people living with cancer.

Brenda said: “Luke called me up and told me he wanted to raise money for Macmillan because they’d been so helpful to me. I’d have been proud if he’d chosen any charity, but the fact he chose Macmillan was the icing on the cake. I’m very, very proud.”

After seeing how the charity had supported his nan, keen athlete Luke, 17, decided to put his own spin on the 2.6 challenge by turning his front yard into the scene of an epic one-man ping pong marathon.

He quickly smashed through his £1,000 fundraising target – raising more than £3,500 in total – as friends and family tuned in to watch.

He explained: “I’m lucky enough to be healthy but I’ve seen first-hand the impact cancer can have, and I know the support Macmillan gave my nan was really important for her.

“With that in mind and given my fitness, I want to help Macmillan so they can be there for those who are not as lucky as me, especially during the lockdown period, when people with cancer are likely to be more vulnerable.”

On the day, Luke took short comfort breaks, and was joined at times by his family for moral support, with his friends joining via video chat at around 2am. He finished midday Sunday.

“I hope it will inspire others to do similar challenges to support causes close to their hearts,” he said.

Mick Ferris

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