THE friends and congregation of a priest diagnosed with a rare form of cancer have raised more than £50,000 in just five days to pay for his treatment.
The Revd Graham Coles, aged 61, was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue last year. He has had cancer several times since 2001, and has been through several rounds of treatment.
The new cancer is aggressive, and the pressures on the ability of the NHS to offer surgery owing to the pandemic, meant that the family had to “think outside the box” and raise money quickly to pay for the treatment he needed privately, his son George Coles said. A GoFundMe page was set up, and the money was raised within five days.
Mr Coles’s family said that they were “overwhelmed” with the result of the appeal: “What a staggering response. We are truly grateful and humbled, and the response from you all will never be forgotten.”
George Coles said: “The money came from lots of different streams, really. Friends, family, and strangers. Prior to his ministry at his current parish, he ran a plumbing and heating company; so donations have come from lots of friendly supporters from all walks of life.”
Mr Coles was ordained in 2012, and is Vicar of St Mary’s, Cubbington, near Leamington Spa. The parish, led by Sue Simmons, a churchwarden, ran its own fund-raising drive, and raised more than £20,000 towards the appeal.
The family has now raised enough to cover the cost of his surgery, hospital costs, and after-care, including the speech therapy he will need to learn to talk again with his new tongue.
Mr Coles had the surgery at the weekend, and is now recovering in intensive care in Guy’s Hospital, London, his son said. The family had “heartfelt gratitude” to all those who had supported Mr Coles, and they were praying for his recovery.