Each year I am privileged to attend Trinity Mirror’s Your Champions Awards - an annual awards campaign sponsored by ScottishPower that highlights the achievements of unsung heroes of the community.
There are many inspiring stories every year, but this year there was a particular story that touched the hearts of judges, who declared the family in question this year’s Champion Team of the Year.
I’ve written about the Pover family many times before, on this page also because I have struck up a friendship with Anne Pover, who along with her husband Dave and their sons Stephen and Chris, have turned the tragedy of losing their eldest son Richard to testicular cancer at the age of 21, into something positive by raising almost £15,000 towards setting up a university scholarship in his memory.
Richard, from Tarporley, was just two weeks away from his 22nd birthday when he lost his 19-month battle with testicular cancer in June 2013.
He had been studying for his masters degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield when he was diagnosed in November 2011, after thinking he had just pulled a muscle. Despite numerous high doses of chemotherapy, the cancer spread to Richard’s lungs and he contracted an infection and tumour on his spinal cord which left him weak and wheelchair-dependent.
He then contracted an infection which weakened him until he lost his battle, leaving Anne and her family absolutely devastated.
Since then, it’s been a struggle for all the family but they have proved inspirational by working tirelessly to create a lasting memorial to Richard in the form of The Richard Pover Outstanding Contribution Award – a permanent endowment open to all students in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering who have excelled in their extra-curricular activities and made an outstanding contribution, just as Richard did.
The reason I wanted to highlight this story this week, is because I think the strength shown by all of the Povers, and Anne as a mother, has been exemplary, and their award is much deserved, although she admits it was a ‘total surprise’.
“This is a difficult time of year for us. Richard was diagnosed on November 7th 2011 and a year later we were told that it was unlikely doctors would be able to cure him. The following November we attended his posthumous graduation ceremony,” she explains.
“Christmas is inevitably tough, being such a family time and there is a massive gap without him. Although we try our hardest to enjoy it, Christmas has lost its sparkle without Richard and it will never be the same again. We still feel the pain of his loss every day and as we see his friends and our friends’ children moving on with their lives, it hurts even more to realise all that Richard was denied.”
“Receiving the award was completely unexpected, but for us it helps to know that other people value what we are doing in Richard’s memory and that they have some sympathy for our tragic loss. It’s what every parent dreads, and although others may imagine how hard it is to lose a son or daughter, it is impossible to comprehend the full impact on your life until it happens to you.
“Donations to the scholarship has also been a comfort to Richard’s brothers, as people find it easier to talk about the scholarship than about Richard himself. I hope that Richard would be pleased with what we are doing for him, although he never wanted sympathy or to be in the limelight - all he ever wanted was to get better and to get his life back and he would push himself to the limit to carry on as normal during his gruelling treatment. Having the support of people from far and wide has given us much comfort, but in our hearts we wish that none of it was necessary.”
Let Anne’s strength be an inspiration to mothers everywhere.
To visit Richard's Justigiving page, click here