He’s just undergone 15 months of treatment for cancer. And now Matthew Cooper has designed the face of a crane which is helping to build a £37.5 million clinical block at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
A former pupil at Wrockwardine Wood Junior School in Telford, Matthew was diagnosed with brain and spinal cancer and his teachers and schoolmates said they wanted to help.
After putting out a plea to people in the borough to help, they managed to raise more than £52,000 to adapt Matthew’s home so he could return to Trench and live with his family.
After more than a year in hospital during his long battle with his illness, undergoing 10 rounds of chemotherapy, 30 sessions of radiotherapy and seven operations at the city centre hospital, Matthew has now returned to a temporary home.
But it was during his last stay that he got involved with coming up with a face for the crane following a social media competition to “name the crane”.
Craney McCrane Face was the winning name and Matthew and his dad Leigh decided to take part in the hospital-wide competition, hosted by its Play team, to design Craney’s face.
Deciding it was a Scottish name, Matthew’s winning design features a bearded man with a red and black tartan hat.
Matthew’s dad, who is a foundry operator, explained how the final work of art was a joint project.
The 51-year-old said: “I am so proud of everything Matthew has achieved but particularly for his winning design – it was a lovely team effort between me and him and in a way marks the end of his treatment.
“We’ll still be coming back for outpatient appointments, so it will be great to see the design on the crane each time we do, until Waterfall House is complete.”
An enlarged version of the design is now displayed on the side of the crane for all to see while the new clinical block called Waterfall House is being built.
Due for completion at the end of 2017, the multi-million pound Waterfall House, will be home to a new cancer centre, rare diseases centre for children – the first in the UK – and new day case theatres.
Closer to home, Matthew’s family were given a further boost last year when it was revealed that the BBC’s DIY SOS team, led by presenter Nick Knowles, will come to Telford in February to finally make the home suitable for Matthew’s return.
This will allow all the money raised by generous people in Telford to be used by his parents, Leigh and Sue, for future medical care.
Dozens of local traders have also come forward saying that they would like to help out with the build.
When 11-year-old Matthew left hospital, he moved to the temporary home where he is staying until the work has been carried out at his home in Telford.
The money already raised for Matthew will now be used to pay for an intensive physiotherapy programme and other pieces of equipment that will help strengthen his limbs in the hope that one day he may be able to leave his wheelchair behind.
Julie Henry, headteacher of Wrockwardine Wood Junior School, who has helped lead the fundraising, said: “It is amazing news that DIY SOS are now involved.
“I really can’t quite believe it has happened.”
A number of volunteers have already put their names forward to help with the renovation.
They include architect Neil Pennell who unveiled plans to remodel the family’s home back in April.
Changes to Matthew’s home will include a wet room and bedroom, and a movable hoist attached to the ceiling to move Matthew from his bed to other areas of his house.
This will all have to be on the ground floor.
After hearing of his illness, friends started an appeal page on Facebook called Making a Difference for Matthew and a Go Fund Me page which can be found under the name “Bring Matt home fund”.Subscribe to our Newsletter