THE widow of well-known local sportsman Ricky Casey is ensuring his legacy lives on.
Nicola has formed The Ricky Casey Trust which has just been approved as a recognised charity.
It was in May 2019 that Ricky, who had been associated with Springhead Football Club for 30 years as a player, coach and manager, lost a brave battle against renal medullary carcinoma, also known as RMC, which is a rare kidney cancer.Nicola has spent the last 18 months setting up the Trust which has rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield, former Manchester United footballers Paul Scholes and David May as patrons.
And even before the Charity Commissioners gave their approval, the fundraising had already begun.
A special 1970s and 80s night at the White Hart, Lydgate, on March 6, which would have been Ricky’s 50th birthday, raised £14,000.
And a more recent virtual five-kilometre walk raised almost £5,000 with a group of six putting in extra miles to walk from Headingley to Oldham.
And on the day, Andy Haigh did a sponsored head shave which contributed to the total.
Nicola, who set out the Trust’s objectives, said: “Your legacy is now official and will live on forever helping others in your name.”
• Advance education and raise awareness among the public and healthcare professions fighting all renal cancers, in particular RMC, but not exclusively.
• Raise funds to advance knowledge, education and research into renal cancer. To provide equipment, treatment, support and practical advice for sufferers of the medical conditions.
• Improve and extend the quality of life of people living with renal cancers and to support their families in the event of hardship.
• Help and support the rehabilitation of firefighters.
Nicola is founder and chair of The Ricky Casey Trust and is joined by Dr Tom Waddell, Ricky’s oncologist at The Christie, Andy Casey, Andy Stevenson and Grace Widdall who are all trustees.
There is relief that the charity has finally been approved as Nicola explained: “I thought this was going to be an easy process, how wrong was I.
“This has been such an emotional rollercoaster for me in so many ways as you can appreciate with lots of ups and downs.
“It has taken hard work and determination with lots of tears and fears, not to mention heartache that I carry every day without my husband.
“There has also been obstacles Covid put in our way in the last few months.
“It has been about turning grief into something positive and to help make a change as there is no cure or treatment for this form of cancer.
“When anyone is diagnosed, it is almost always stage four with a prognosis of 12 months at most to live.”
Kevin Sinfield, who knew Ricky, said: “I was honoured to be asked to become a patron of the trust.
“Nicola is doing a wonderful job and what the trust is doing will be important.
“Ricky was a champion, and we have to make sure his name is remembered, and we create a legacy.”
Nicola is working on a website and a giving page for donations.
In the meantime, she has an awareness page RMC & Sickle Cell Awareness.UK
Ricky, who was a firefighter based on Lees Road, Oldham, battled cancer for 12 months and died shortly before he was due to have pioneering treatment.
As the NHS would not fund it, family and friends raised more than £30,000 to cover the cost.
It included a charity football match at Springhead which still went ahead days after his death as a celebration of his life.
A crowd of about 2,000 packed into the ground for the match which saw Spring head tackle a celebrity side which includes Paul Scholes and former professionals Chris Killen, Will Haining, Steve Jones and former Springhead player Richie Bennett.
• RMC predominantly afflicts young adults and adolescents of African descent with sickle cell trait, sickle cell disease or other hemoglobinopathies that can cause red blood cells to change into a sickle shape.
It affects all ages, though men are twice as likely to contract it.
RMC is one of the most aggressive kidney cancers with half of patients not surviving longer than four months from diagnosis.