‘True warriors’

Skelton’s John Leach raises thousands for colleague’s stepson with sponsored walk

On 18 December, Skelton delivery office manager, John Leach, visited all seven delivery offices in Teesside, walking almost 45 miles in just under 14 hours, to raise money for the family of one of his team.

Last year, postman Graham Reed’s stepson, Kai, a talented 15-year-old footballer, was diagnosed with Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma – a fast-growing and extremely rare type of cancer.

Following his diagnosis, Kai underwent a number of procedures, including more than 600 hours of chemotherapy complete with all the traumatic side effects one would expect, all of which he took in his stride.

When his treatment finished at the end of June, Kai’s care team were amazed at his fighting spirit, and after no less than 70 nights spent in hospital, he was allowed home to continue shielding. In November, however, Kai was told he would have to undergo further intensive procedures, including chemotherapy, stem cell therapy and radiotherapy.

‘We are currently doing all we can to raise money to support Kai and his family,’ said John. ‘Unfortunately, during the pandemic, help and support has been extremely limited, but Graham and his family have battled through everything like true warriors.

‘Throughout Kai’s treatment, Graham has continued to perform an exceptional job. We agreed between us that Graham coming into work between periods of necessary self-isolation was the best form of distraction from his stressful home life. We are all extremely grateful that he has continued to serve his customers so well despite the horrific circumstances his family are going through.’

‘When speaking to Graham about the immense strain he and his family have been under, I remember thinking: “Wow, if that was my daughter, who is only a few years older than Kai, would I be as strong as Graham and still be at work?” I started thinking about what I could do to help and after speaking with my wife, I came up with the idea for my walk. I thought if I could raise just a few hundred pounds, it would help Graham’s family through the Christmas period.’

On the day in question, John headed to Redcar Delivery Office, parked his car and set off just after five in the morning. He walked from Redcar to Saltburn and together with a colleague, from Saltburn to the Skelton office.

‘After reaching Skelton at 7.30am I took off for Guisborough Delivery Office with another member of my team,’ said John. ‘We used the Cleveland Way, walking across the hills, getting to Guisborough just after nine. After a quick toilet stop, I was on my way to Coulby Newham Delivery Office, this time with my wife, who accompanied me first to Coulby, and then onto Middlesbrough.

‘We got there at 2pm. I quickly swapped shoes, said goodbye to my wife, and headed for Stockton Delivery Office, arriving around an hour later. This left me with my final leg, which I was grateful to be joined on by another colleague and friend. This leg was the longest and definitely the hardest part of the walk. But after walking a few hours in the dark through fields and down pitch-black paths, unsure if we were going the right way or not, we finally arrived at Hartlepool Delivery Office at 7pm. I had walked for 13 hours 55 minutes, doing 44.7miles and 96,000 steps!’

By completing his walk, and together with help from the teams in Teesside and Newcastle Mail Centre, doing whip rounds and Christmas jumper days, John raised an amazing £3,515 for Graham’s family.

If you would like to help Graham and his family, you can visit their fundraising page by clicking here to donate.

13 Jan 2021