Bravery and devotion to duty are the much-praised qualities we take for granted in our Armed Forces.
But alongside those comes selflessness. And former Royal Marine Matthew Goodman has that as well.
Mr Goodman, who served in the 2003 Iraq conflict, is selling his three service medals to help fund a four-year-old’s £200,000 cancer treatment – even though the pair have never met.
Medals: Mr Goodman with 15-month-old daughter Freya, left, and right, cancer patient Lottie Woods-John
Lottie was diagnosed with cancer after she became ill at the end of a family holiday in Cornwall
The 35-year-old told yesterday how he was moved to auction medals for service in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, as well as his Iraq campaign medal, after reading about Lottie Woods-John’s battle with neuroblastoma on Instagram.
Despite living 90 miles from the sick child, the married father of one has now listed the three medals on eBay, where they have so far attracted 11 bids.
The duty manager at a leisure centre, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: ‘When I came across Lottie’s fundraising campaign, I was heartbroken to read of her battle against childhood cancer.
Mr Goodman served in the 2003 Iraq conflict
‘As a father, I couldn’t imagine seeing my baby daughter, Freya, suffering like that. My medals were just sitting in the drawer doing nothing, and I thought they could be used for something worthwhile.’
Lottie’s parents Charlotte Woods, 36, and David John, 44, an events manager, discovered Lottie had cancer after she became ill at the end of a family holiday in Cornwall. Initially they thought their daughter was suffering from a tummy bug after persistent vomiting. But when her stomach started to swell, Lottie was rushed to A&E at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey.
Doctors found a melon-sized tumour in her stomach and she was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. Within three hours of diagnosis in June last year, she had started chemotherapy in a bid to tackle the disease, which had spread to her bones and marrow. That October, a 13-hour operation removed 95 per cent of the five-inch tumour. Lottie is undergoing immunotherapy, but faces a high relapse risk. Such patients have a low survival rate, with treatment limited to clinical trials at home or abroad. Lottie’s parents are now desperately fundraising to pay for an innovative vaccine treatment available in a US clinical trial.
The vaccine, offered in seven injections over a year at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, aims for the relapse-free survival of children in remission after they complete ‘high-risk’ neuroblastoma immunotherapy.
Lottie pictured during her fifth round of chemotherapy with her mum Charlotte Woods and father Dave John
Mr Goodman (pictured left during his service) is selling his three service medals to help fund Lottie’s £200,000 cancer treatment
Miss Woods, who cares for Lottie at home in Addlestone, Surrey, said: ‘Lottie has been given a 20 per cent chance of surviving the next five years and there’s an 85 per cent chance of the cancer returning. We are living day to day. Lottie needs the cutting-edge treatment straight away, meaning we need the £200,000 imminently.’
The desperate mother, who has two other children, Georgia, 18 and Jack, 16, added: ‘When Matt contacted me to tell me he wanted to sell his medals to help towards treatment costs I was speechless.
‘He risked his life for those medals and the fact that he’s not even met Lottie, but wants to help keep her alive is mind-blowing. I can’t thank him enough.’
Fewer than 100 children in the UK are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year, with most aged under five. Mr Goodman added: ‘Once they’re sold, in the place of my medals I’ll be wearing a childhood cancer awareness ribbon. For me, nothing is worth a child’s life.’
His medals had attracted a top bid in excess of £600 by yesterday. The eBay auction ends on Friday.
To help, visit www.justgiving.com/ campaigns/charity/solvingkidscancer/ lottiewoods-john