HMS Defender crew show wave of support for NHS charity

Family and friends raise money for Blackpool charity in memory of a much loved and missed 29-year-old man from Darwen.

Over £7,000 has been raised to commemorate Tom Maudsley, a stainless-steel salesman, who passed away in May 2020 after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Tom’s kindness and enthusiasm for giving back kickstarted a wave of support for NHS Charity Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, the charity for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals.

Tom’s sister, Becky Turner, a Secondary School teacher from Darwen, credits her brother for spotting the charity-funded items in the hospital ward for being the inspiration behind the fundraising.

“When he was in Blackpool [hospital], it sounds like a really strange thing to say, but he liked it. He knew he was getting the best care. Going into hospital when you’re a kid you’ve got the bright and colourful walls, whereas for adults, in can feel like you’re in an old person’s hospital.

But he knew Blue Skies had decorated the room to make it nice, all the stuff that would make a younger person feel at home. So, the whole time he was there he kept saying ‘when I get better, I’m going to raise money’ “.

Sadly, Tom later died following a transplant operation whilst he was in remission, but his friends and family have ensured that his legacy lives on through their charity work.

To keep her mind occupied, this year Becky began selling handmade rainbows through her business Fred and Pearl.

Combined with monies raised through a golf day at Darwen Golf Club, raffles organised by local businesses, and donations made by Tom’s employer, the current total sits at £7,700.

The fundraising took to international waters when Tom’s best friend, Petty Officer Tom Yates who is aboard the HMS Defender, nominated Blue Skies as the ships chosen charity for the year.

Best friends since the age of 10, Tom fondly recalls the excellent care Tom received.

“Every time I was there, I could see how much the staff had built up a friendship with him and how much they cared for him. Blue Skies are doing an amazing job and it is a pleasure to be raising money through my job to hopefully help others just like Tom.”

“Tom was a huge part of my life, and I don’t think that it will ever sink in that I won’t ever get to see him again. “

The crew have held several bingo and quiz nights, as well as taking part in physical challenges, such as two officers running 120k each month and 200 press-ups every day.

With five months left of deployment, Tom’s certain there’ll be many more events taking place in tribute to his close friend.

Becky’s incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated, saying: “People just loved my brother, anything that has his name to it has done so well. If he’d got through it, he would’ve done all this himself, raising more money than I have! It’s what he wanted.”