Pupils at St Anne’s Catholic Voluntary Academy have been inspired to take on a series of charity challenges by their friend who went on an incredible fundraising journey with her dad.

Eleven-year-old Lily Heywood, pictured bottom right, completed 60 miles of hiking, 60 miles of running, 60 miles of cycling, swam 60 lengths, ran the Media city 5k in Manchester and climbed Mount Snowdon at 3,560ft.

She helped to raise over £8,500 for The Christie Hospital, in Manchester, last year with her dad Matt who was treated at the hospital for melanoma skin cancer.

Now 15 pupils in Year 6 at St Anne’s, in Buxton, are following in Lily’s footsteps and taking on their own challenges with the target of raising £1,000 for The Christie Hospital.

Their JustGiving page is called Project LAFF (Lily and Friends Fundraiser) and can be found here: Matthew Heywood is fundraising for THE CHRISTIE CHARITY (justgiving.com)

Writing on the JustGiving page, Lily said: “Last year my daddy inspired me to help make a difference, this year I hope to inspire my school friends to help raise money once again for The Christie.

“We have all chosen a challenge that is inspired by the number 60. We will be running, swimming, hiking, cycling, giving up sweets and chocolate and lots more. We all hope you can help us raise vital funds for the hospital that saved my daddy and helps thousands of people each and every year. Thanks in advance Lily and Friends (St Anne’s, Buxton Year 6).”

The 60 Christie’s fundraising challenge is aimed at schools and is centred on the figure 60 because that is the average distance a patient travels for cancer treatment in the UK.

Pupil Freya, 11, said: “My challenge is hiking and I want to do 60 miles so I can help people who need it. I saw what Lily was doing and thought it was a good idea, it’s good to help people in need.”

Pupil Charlie, 11, said: “I started my challenge in March and we are all aiming to be finished in September. I am cycling and the longest ride I’ve done so far is 12 miles with my dad. Lily inspired us and I think it’s good to be able to help people.”

Lily’s dad Matt was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in 2021 but following surgery and treatment he is now in remission and took on his own fundraising challenges.

These included scaling the three Welsh peaks and the three Yorkshire peaks as a 36 hour challenge, taking on the Spanish three peaks, the Tower Run in Manchester, the Manchester and the Buxton half-marathons back to back and more.

This year Matt has already taken on Mount Toubkal in Morocco, and looks to compete in the Manchester Marathon in April, the Welsh 3000’s in August and finally the Lakes 10 event organised by The Christie in September.

Matt said: “When my Christie’s event manager had the chance to meet Lily on a Kinder Scout hike, she asked Lily if she would be continuing to fundraise with me. When her reply was no, I turned in disbelief, but what followed brought a tiny tear to my eye. Lily turned around and said….

“’My dad inspired me this year to do my challenges, what we did together was amazing and we did a great thing, but next year I want to see if I can inspire my school friends and do something with them, Sorry Dad!’

“I mean how proud do you think I felt when I heard those words. Although she hasn’t got rid of me that easily, I’ve still got to run the 60 runs with her.

“I didn’t know how it would be received by her friends, but the response was incredible, what a fantastic group of kids, a credit to their school, teachers and their amazing parents. We have a chance to do something special and the children have jumped in feet first with all the enthusiasm in the world. Just mega to see!”

Matt and Lily urge people to go and see their GP if they are unsure of any changing moles or lesions. If detected early, over 85% of melanomas are preventable.

Matt said: “Melanoma and skin cancers affect us all regardless of our skin type, be safe in the sun.”