Nigel Poole and his daughters Louise Poole and Sarah-Jane Oakes, left, with Haematology Highly Specialist Nurse Catherine Redshaw and consultant Dr Sonya Ravenscroft.
Nigel Poole and his daughters Louise Poole and Sarah-Jane Oakes, left, with Haematology Highly Specialist Nurse Catherine Redshaw and consultant Dr Sonya Ravenscroft at Salford Royal.

A RUNNER, who battled a rare leukaemia twice, has been reunited with the doctor who ‘saved his life’ after raising money through a sponsored Disney-themed charity race.

Nigel Poole of Congleton was first diagnosed with hairy cell leukaemia in 2009 and received treatment at the haematology department at Salford Royal that year and again in 2018 when the cancer returned. The cancer of the white blood cells gets its name from the fine, hair-like strands around the outside of the cancerous cells, which are only visible under a microscope. It is one of the rarest types of leukaemia.

Nigel, nicknamed ‘Super Nige’ by his friends, family and fellow runners at Congleton Harriers for his positive outlook on life, took on the 48.6-mile Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge in January 2020 to raise money for the haematology department that has cared for him over the past decade.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and various restrictions in place during the past 18 months, Nigel has only returned to Salford Royal this summer to thank his consultant Dr Sonya Ravenscroft face to face and let her know he raised £5,100 from his challenge. The money will go to NorthCare Charity - the hospital's official NHS charity that will ensure it benefits future blood cancer patients and staff working in the haematology department.

Dr Sonya Ravenscroft, said: “Nigel has been under my care in the haematology department since 2009 and it was so lovely to receive this donation from him. On behalf of our team, I would like to thank Nigel and his family for their generosity with this donation.

“They managed an amazing feat of endurance and in the process raised this huge sum of money. It was lovely to meet with them and hear about their journey from the initial organisation of the trip, training and planning and then finally the marathon itself.

“We are always so grateful for donations such as these, which are largely used to improve the ward facilities for our patients who are often in hospital for many weeks at a time, and for educational purposes for staff, amongst other things. A big thank you to Super Nige and all that supported him.”

The run took place at Walt Disney World in Florida over four days, starting with a 5k, then a 10k, followed by a half marathon and finishing with a marathon on the final day. Nigel was joined on the runs by wife Sandra, daughters Sarah-Jane Oakes and Louise Poole and their partners Chris Oakes and Will Roberts.

The challenge was the idea of Disney fanatic Louise who had previously worked at the resort and marshalled the event. The whole family decided to take part, but it was Louise and Sarah-Jane’s idea to raise money for the haematology department at Salford Royal. The family ran a combined distance of 210 miles and aimed to raise £2,100 - £10 for each mile run. But they more than doubled this thanks to support from friends and family.

Nigel is a regular runner and volunteer at Congleton parkrun at Astbury Mere Country Park.

Nigel, aged 63, said: “I don’t find it easy asking people for money, but this clearly was a wonderful thing my daughters wanted to do. If you are ever very seriously ill, it affects those around you far more than it does yourself. Through both my treatments I never worried about not coming out the other side and was on both occasions very chilled about it. However, it’s not the same for your family. It was lovely that the girls wanted to give something back.

“I feel very fortunate to have been referred to Salford Royal. The treatment and care I have received has been simply world class and this hospital has won many awards for its high standards. It was lovely to finally meet Dr Ravenscroft again, and this time on positive terms. We’re delighted we raised such a good amount to help this incredible department.”

Louise added: “Ever since our dad was diagnosed, he has never shown weakness. His determination and strength has shown what a remarkable individual he is. Our dad has always done everything and anything he can for his family, so we decided it’s time we did something extra special to give back.”

Nigel’s donation will benefit the haematology department through a special fund overseen by NorthCare Charity. The charity supports the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group’s four hospitals and community services across Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford by funding innovative equipment, education, research and wellbeing activities.

Nigel and family cross the finish line for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon.
Nigel and family cross the finish line for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon as part of the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge in Florida.