Rugby man’s marathon challenge in memory of schoolboy Joel

Gary with daughter-in-law Kristina.
Gary with daughter-in-law Kristina.

A detective constable from Rugby will be pounding the streets when he takes part in Virgin London Marathon in memory of a teenager who died aged just 15.

Gary Hammond, who plays for Old Laurentians RFC, is appealing for local rugby clubs and individuals to sponsor him in honour of Joel Hammond-Smith, who played for St Andrew’s RFC Juniors.

Joel, a pupil at Bilton High School, died from complications following a brave battle with leukaemia. He died cancer free.

“I am taking part in running the Virgin London Marathon on April 22 for Teenage Cancer Trust in memory of my relative Joel who passed away after battling cancer.

“The dedicated staff on the ward at Birmingham Children’s hospital were amazing and the family received incredible support from Teenage Cancer Trust.”

Gary wants to raise £3,000 from his marathon challenge.

He said Joel was a typical teenage boy who enjoyed playing rugby, kickboxing and spending time with his friends.

“When he started complaining of headaches, flu like symptoms, swollen gums and no energy we knew there was a problem,” said Gary.

“After five weeks, three trips to the doctors, blood tests came back and his family’s world crumbled.”

Joel was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

He added: “June 3, 2013, will never be forgotten, when Joel was admitted into Birmingham children’s hospital for chemo, four rounds of chemotherapy lots of ups and downs, bone marrow biopsies, lumber punctures, MRI scans and lots more were carried out over the next few months.”

Joel was finally in remission on November 4, but the cancer later returned and Joel needed a bone marrow transplant.

“It went very well, the only problem at that time was a dry tickly cough. Joel’s cough got steadily worse over the next couple of weeks so his consultants did a bronchoscopy to see if there was anything in his lungs causing the problem.”

He was put into a coma but died from multiple organ failure on March 20.

Gary said: “He was surrounded by his family, He died cancer free.”

Donate at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Gary599c08ee99393