Charity fundraiser in memory of ‘brave’ Horsham father

The Neal family, James and Joanna Neal with their three children (submitted).
The Neal family, James and Joanna Neal with their three children (submitted).

A World Cup launch party has been organised by the family and friends of a Horsham father of three who passed away from a rare form of cancer last June.

The fundraising day will be held in June to commemorate what would have been James Neal’s 45th birthday and the first anniversary of his passing.

James went to Forest School, lived in Horsham all his life, and worked for his family firm Sherlock and Neal, the Rusper based building contractors.

He lost his mother when he was 22 from the genetic neuroendocrine cancer and from then on, lived life to the full.

His wife Joanna Neal explained: “He grabbed life, did everything he could and never said no to anything. James was a real practical joker, a keen skier, a huge car lover and a keen Man Utd fan.”

After the couple married in 1999, they had three children; Olivia, now 13, Jayden, 11 and Zak, 7.

James was diagnosed with both bowel cancer and a neuroendocrine tumour in 2012.

Joanna said: “He was so brave and never complained, he just carried on with a positive outlook. He went through so much treatment and was incredible dealing with it all. The hospitals kept trying different treatments but nothing actually helped him.”

He was admitted to St Catherine’s Hospice in June and passed away surrounded by family and friends.

More than £22,000 has already been raised for St Catherine’s Hospice through a range of events organised by close friend, Dave Kirkham. However the memorial day, which will be held on Sunday June 8 at Horsham Rugby Club, will raise money for the NET Patient Foundation.

The charity funds research into neuroendocrine cancer, supports sufferers and their families, and raises awareness for the disease, since in many instances it is symptomless.

Organised with the help of the rugby club and Peach Entertainments, there will be 24 ‘countries’ taking part in a six a side football tournament tying in with the launch of the World Cup.

As part of the fun day, there will also be bouncy castles, fairground side stalls, a mini market, face painting, a balloon race, and a wide variety of food and snacks. The event hopes to be the first of many fundraising projects, as members of ‘Team Neal’ are planning to take on the Brighton Marathon and the Tough Mudder in July. Several have already run the Chichester 10k and Brighton Half Marathon.

Joanna said “Our children are very young but we have always spoken about James, we talk about him every day. It’s nice to have something like this for them that they are doing for dad.

“As time has gone on, people expect things to carry on and it isn’t like that for us. I can’t believe he’s not here, I still think he is going to walk through the door.”

The boys attend Holbrook School who have been very supportive, even entering a team of teachers into the tournament, led by Jayden’s teacher, Mr Nevin. They are now seeking firms to sponsor the 24 teams. For more information about sponsorship, to volunteer, or enter a team into the tournament email