Black and white image of smiling couple and son on their wedding day

Young Derby dad, Matt Allen, is tackling a series of fundraising challenges for us in memory of his wife who died of breast cancer last year aged 37.

Emma’s diagnosis in June 2016 came as a massive shock to the young couple who had just started to plan their wedding, as Matt, 37, explained:
“I met Emma thirteen years ago and we just clicked. After a couple of years together, our son Fin came along. When he was three years old, we went on holiday to Lanzarote and I proposed. “We were planning to get married out there. Emma was going to the gym, trying to tone up to look her best for the day.  When she lost a bit of weight, that’s when she found a lump.” The couple cancelled their wedding plans abroad, but Emma was adamant they would still get married.
Young family in snow
Black and white image of smiling couple and son on their wedding day
“We’d had to book the registry office here in Derby anyway so within a couple of weeks, we had that as our wedding day. "We did the best that we could in a short space of time  – friends and family helped out. It was lovely and as good as it could possibly have been.

She really tried to be positive

“Emma was a strong sod really. She really tried to be positive. She tried everything – chemo, surgery - and she even went to Mexico for some alternative treatments.”

I could spend every last day with Emma.

When the COVID pandemic began in March last year, Matt had to stop work as a gas engineer: “It sounds bad, but lockdown couldn’t have come better for us. I could spend every, last day with Emma. We just stayed in. “Lockdown started only four months before Emma died but she really declined in those few months and it wasn’t nice to see.

I was down on the settee every night

“Emma wanted to die at home and we were offered carers to help but I wanted to do it myself and some neighbourly friends helped too and were amazing. “But it got to a point where I was down on the settee every night. Emma was waking up in pain and there were a few nights where I was only getting four hours sleep or so. During the day, I was occupied by Fin, who was 8 at the time.”
Matt contacted the Hospice at Home service: “The hospice nurses were all amazing.  Just having someone there overnight, so I could go and lie down, was a Godsend really. “If it wasn’t for Treetops, we’d have been in hospital for long periods of time and it wouldn’t have been good for me or Fin.

Deep down, I don’t know how it would have been without Treetops.

Matt also approached us for bereavement counselling for Fin. “He was an eight-year-old boy that had lost his mum. I think all he remembers of his mum is of her being poorly. I don’t think he remembers much of anything else. “The counsellors were amazing. They used cards to get Fin to say how he felt and show what he’d been through.”
Matt and Fin have completed several fundraising challenges in memory of Emma, and to raise money for us. In October 2020, they even climbed Ben Nevis in freezing conditions.

What Treetops did for me, I feel like I’m forever in their debt. They need people to try and fundraise for them.

Group of people in climbing gear