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Sudbury schoolboy inspired by young cousin's battle with cancer to embark on 1,000-kilometre cycling fundraiser




After learning about his young cousin’s battle with a rare form of cancer, 13-year-old Alfie Gardiner was determined to help raise funds to support her treatment.

The Ormiston Sudbury Academy student is now rallying his community around a virtual 1,000-kilometre cycling challenge, which he aims to complete before the start of the next school year in September.

Alfie was inspired by his three-year-old cousin, Nellie, who was diagnosed at the end of March with neuroblastoma – an aggressive childhood cancer with a 40 to 50 per cent long-term survival rate at the point of diagnosis.

Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911622)
Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911622)

The youngster received induction chemotherapy and underwent surgery, which removed the majority of the tumour on her adrenal gland, and has now begun a course of high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

A fundraising campaign has since been launched to help Nellie and her family travel to the United States and receive further treatment not currently provided by the NHS, which could cost more than £200,000.

Alfie’s mum Jess Rees said her son had been adamant about being a major part of the fundraising, and added that the family is “incredibly proud” of his efforts.

Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911624)
Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911624)

“As soon as Alfie found out about it, he was looking for ways to raise money,” she told the Free Press. “He is quite a keen cyclist, and we were due to travel to Spain, so that’s what inspired him to do a virtual ride from the northern tip to the southern tip of Spain.

“He’s living his life through this at the moment. We’re totally blown away. We didn’t ask him to do this. He did it completely off his own back, and I couldn’t be prouder.

“The support has been amazing. I think the biggest thing is that, for the family, this all happened very quickly.

Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911626)
Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911626)

“With Nellie being so young and the way she’s dealing with it, everyone is dealing with it in a positive way.”

To complete his challenge, Alfie is cycling in small increments near his home, providing progress updates on Facebook via the exercise tracking application Strava.

He was visited this month by Colchester United player Cohen Bramall, who donated signed football boots to be auctioned off for the cause, while Sudbury Rugby Club and Stanway Rovers FC have also pledged to help raise money.

Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911625)
Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911625)

The fundraiser will also help Alfie towards his Duke of Edinburgh award, which he will continue working towards when he enters Year 9 at Ormiston Sudbury Academy in September.

Nellie’s plight has also been supported by the non-profit organisation Solving Kids’ Cancer, which has so far raised more than £14,000 for her family.

To support Alfie’s fundraiser, go online to www.gofundme.com/f/alfie039s-virtual-spanish-bike-ride-for-nellie.

Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911620)
Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911620)

You can follow his progress on the ‘Alfie is Nailing it For Nellie’ page at www.facebook.com/ANI4N.

Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911621)
Alfie Gardiner, 13, has started a virtual 1,000km cycle ride to help the fundraising campaign for his 3 year old cousin, Nellie, who has been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma..Pic - Richard Marsham/RMG Photography. (38911621)

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