Steve Prescott played Rugby League for St Helens, Hull, Wakefield, Ireland and was a GB Lions Tourist.
In September 2006, Steve was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) a rare form of Cancer, he was told that he would not see his two children grow up; he was given months to live. He underwent a major operation in Basingstoke Hospital and tumours were removed from his abdomen. After surgery Steve was transferred to The Christie Hospital in Manchester for chemotherapy treatment to try to control the remaining disease.
The concept of undertaking fund-raising took shape in August 2007, after Steve was Guest of Honour at a Wigan Supporters versus St.Helens Supporters Charity Rugby League match. The game signified the starting point of the Steve Prescott Foundation, with two organisations close to his own heart set to receive the benefits of his own fund-raising activities:
The Christie: The Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester is one of Europe's leading cancer centres, treating over 40,000 patients a year. This is where Steve is currently being treated. It is one of only two national specialist hospitals that specialises in Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) in GB.
Try Assist: Previously known as The Rugby League Benevolent Fund, and aims to support players whose lives are affected by serious injuries while playing the game of Rugby League. SPF Donates 25k to Try Assist Fund
Backed by an enthusiastic Committee, the first major event was a 199 mile walk, beginning in Hull and finishing at Old Trafford, Manchester, before the Grand Final. All together, thirteen rugby league clubs were visited en route, with a total of £60,000 raised for the Foundation. Supporters from rival clubs walked side by side with each other for the cause, with twelve supporting Stephen the full distance of the walk itself. It was a difficult scenario for Stephen, who had only just finished a course of chemotherapy. Yet sheer grit, determination, plain stubbornness and the great camaraderie of friends and supporters enabled him to succeed.
Stephen also had the privilege of kicking off in the special ‘All Golds’ versus ‘Northern Union’ match to celebrate the Centenary of the first-ever Test Match between England and New Zealand in 1907. The game was held at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium and for Stephen to be Guest of Honour was indicative of his high profile within the rugby league game itself.
In May 2008 there was another challenge for Stephen. After months of hard training, punctuated by chemotherapy, he attempted the London Marathon, together with three former Rugby League players and team-mates: Chris Joynt, Dave Lyon and Terry O’Connor. Despite suffering from intense cramp along the way, he finished the run in 4 hours 32 minutes. He was disappointed not to beat his father Eric’s time from the same race some years previously! The event was a huge success, however, receiving extensive regional media coverage and raising £8,000 for the Foundation.
Bardon Concrete, one of the leading companies in their field in the North West identified the Stephen Prescott Foundation in its Community Engagement Plan for further and on-going support, donating £10,000 in 2008. A major publicity coup for the Foundation came in March 2008, when it was announced that Hymix Ltd, in conjunction with Bardon Aggregates, were prepared to display the Stephen Prescott Foundation logo, together with Christies and the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, on several of their readymix drums. The launch, at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Chorley was a huge success and those vehicles with the Foundation logos emblazoned on their ‘drums’ can be seen regularly plying the road and motorway networks of the North West of England.
In July 2008 the Steve Prescott Foundation attempted it’s most ambitious project to date with Stephen playing a major role in organising a unique boxing event for former Rugby League players at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton. Former team-mates and opponents such as Steve Hampson, Garry Schofield, Anthony Sullivan were more than willing to undertake weeks of training to take part in the contest. As part of the training, the contestants even visited Ricky Hatton’s gym in Manchester, when Ricky himself gave his full support for the event. Such activities have done much to bring together the Rugby League community in particular, who have always been extremely supportive in all of Stephen’s ventures. On the night itself, Stephen could not sit back and watch. He entered the ring and took on former European Middleweight Champion Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham in an exhibition bout which delighted the audience. The event raised £32,000, together with further awareness and publicity for the Foundation.
A second Trans-Pennine walk was planned for October 2008, but once again Stephen looked upon it as an opportunity to increase the level of challenge involved – to push the boundaries further. This time, the Trans-Pennine walk encompassed 23 Rugby League clubs visited during a fortnight. The Grand Final match ball was also carried along the way. Several people took time off work to ‘go the distance’ to help make the walk a huge success. The National League clubs, in particular, embraced the participants and the Foundation concept with great hospitality. At Dewsbury, youngsters from Thornhill Community School greeted the walkers; at Batley, there was a strong compliment of juniors from the famous Batley Boys club. The walk had once again done much to unite communities on both sides of the Pennines and raised £40,000 for the Foundation. The match ball was delivered to Old Trafford on Grand Final day, after the walkers made the final approach to the stadium led by a Scots piper. Stephen was greeted by Mike Stephenson of Sky Sports at the end of the walk and as a result maximum publicity for the Foundation was ensured.
Another boxing tournament was proposed for Batley’s Frontier Club on 1stApril 2009 essentially for players from National League clubs such as Featherstone, Batley, Hunslet and Bramley. Stephen managed to persuade the respective Chairmen of these clubs to release their players for this event, a near-impossible task in the first instance. Yet he received full support for his proposals and the event is set to raise £16,000 for the Foundation. Once again local communities were brought together for such a worthy cause.
Stephen has always wanted to push back the barriers for each successive challenge undertaken by the Foundation. In August 2009 comes the most demanding of them all. This involved an international challenge, starting with cycling from Perpignan across France to the English Channel; with further cycling back in England up to Uxbridge and then paddled 24 miles up the River Thames in a Dragon Boat. The participants then undertook a half-marathon before entering Wembley Stadium with the match ball for the 2009 Challenge Cup final. Needless to say an event of this nature required ‘blue chip’ sponsorship to the tune of £9,000, which was provided by Carnegie of Leeds, who also sponsor the Challenge Cup competition itself. Like with the walks, disability is no barrier to participation. Pete Stephenson and Jimmy Gittins, who were both seriously hurt playing Rugby League, were delighted to put themselves forward for the challenge. The look of satisfaction and achievement after their first session of dragon boat training in Liverpool said it all!
Stephen has developed into the perfect ‘front man’ and is an accomplished speaker when introducing his various challenges to the media on behalf of the Foundation and has undoubtedly helped to increase awareness of not just his own condition, but the valuable work of The Christie Hospital and the Rugby League Benevolent Fund. He has encompassed several different sports and activities for his challenges and this has included participation from a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds, who maybe would not have taken part in charity work but for his influence. Stephen is also a member of a strong, caring family, including his wife, Linzi and sons Taylor and Koby, who have been totally supportive throughout his illness. Indeed, his older brother, Neil, not only helped him with his preparation for the Marathon but also stepped into the ring for one of the bouts in the boxing spectacular at Bolton!
Steve at the moment is having a break from the intense Chemotherapy and is having 3 monthly scans to monitor the remaining disease. Having a terminal illness does not stop him from trying new challenges that pushes his body to the limits.
Steve was awarded with an MBE in the 2010 New Years Honours List for his services to Rugby League and Charity work.
Events in 2010
The first event The Foundation organised in 2010 was in February A Night of Darts with BDO World Championship Runner up Dave Chisnall. The evening was held at Moss Bank Labour club in St Helens, over 250 SPF supporters crammed in to witness a fantastic night of Darts and top class entertainment. Dave took on the challenge from current Super League players Lee Briers, Micky Higham, Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Nick Fozzard, Stephen Wild, Paul Sculthorpe, and Sky Sports Angela Powers. The evening was a great success with Dave’s presence on the oche making it one to remember.
Hattons Travel Wheelchair Game
March saw some slick handling and big hits when the current Great Britain Wheelchair World Champions took on the Steve Prescott Foundation team at the Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes organised by The Trust in Widnes Committee.
Fast paced and tough, the Wheelchair RL challenge consisted of three 20-minute high impact-playing periods. Slick ball control proved no match against the superior wheelchair speed and handling of the Great Britain team. The final score was 62 - 12 to the GB World Champions.
Carnegie Rowing Challenge
The rugby league family came together in April to complete a marathon challenge to raise money for charity. Rugby league players, coaches, journalists and fans all took part in the Carnegie Rowing Challenge, a 42,195 metre indoor rowing marathon, to raise money for Try Assist, the Rugby League Benevolent Fund.
The event, which raised around £15,000, took place at Leeds Metropolitan, as individuals and teams completed the gruelling distance, including St Helens and Great Britain legend Paul Sculthorpe, BBC Radio's Dave Woods and John Power, who broke his neck playing for Oldham in 1995 and has benefited from the work of the benevolent fund
Royce's Gym produced a stunning row as they smashed the indoor rowing marathon world record, posting a time of 1 hour, 54 mins and 6.9 seconds in an incredible display of athleticism and determination.
The Steve Prescott Foundation Team completed the marathon in 2hrs, 42mins.
April also saw Steve tackle the London marathon for the second time. He was determined to beat Eric, his father’s time of 4hrs 30mins from the 1980s. He had missed out on going under the time by 2 minutes in 2008 and was more experienced and determined to achieve this goal on his second attempt. He completed the 26-mile course in 4hrs 24mins, 8 mins under his previous best in 2008 and 6 mins faster than his father’s time.
After last year’s hugely successful inaugural Taylor Park Challenge, May’s 2010 Taylor Park, had the participants competing against each other in five different disciplines. Dragon Boat Racing with a Grand Final Climax, Orienteering, Archery, Catch the Bomb Competition, Fitness Test on a Rowing Machine and Tug of War. The crowds were Entertained by 3 Live Bands there were prize stalls and Silcocks Fair provided rides for the children to make it a real family day. The event was another great success with one exception that is – after 13 years of playing full back at a professional level and being under more high bombs than he can care to remember, Steve somehow managed to badly fracture his little finger, in the ‘Beat the Bomb’ event.
In June, the SPF headed to Langar Air field near Nottingham to face the fear of jumping from a plane at 15,000 ft. The conditions were bright and clear and the brave bunch of 14, including ex pro’s Paul Sculthorpe and Steve Hampson, took to the skies. They were in the capable hands of the worlds leading parachute display team, the Red Devils.
Steve said, “I can honestly say it was without doubt the most frightening thing I have ever done and an utterly unique sensation”. Two of the Benevolent Fund beneficiaries Pete Stephenson and Jimmy Gittins took part and despite having disabilities they bravely took on the challenge without fear. Jimmy did give us all a fright though, being the only one to miss the landing zone and Jimmy being Jimmy managed to miss it by a mile and land some distance away in a corn field everybody really enjoyed the experience and said they would love to do it again.
The Carnegie Challenge Cup
In august Steve was lucky enough to be invited to present the Carnegie Challenge Cup to the winners of this prestigious award. Once again it was Warrington Wolves who were victorious. Steve had the privilege of handing over the cup to his friend and captain, Adrian Morley. Steve was given a really great reception from both teams both before the game and after when he presented the medals, whether they were winners or losers. It was good to see that they really made a connection.
August 2010 saw The Steve Prescott Foundation take a team of ex players to Cumbria to link up with Wath Brow ARFLC, a fantastic local amateur club, for a charity sportsmans dinner, followed by a Legends Rugby League game. It was a great weekend for many reasons. Firstly, the main aim was to raise money for the Copeland Tragedy Fund, which was set up to support the families of the horrific Cumbrian shootings in June.
Last ever game at Saints
Early in September, the Foundation was invited to put a team of Saints Legends together, to play the current Saints Academy side, as a curtain raiser to the final Engage Super League match played at the GPW Recruitment Stadium, Knowsley Road. The turnout from ‘the old guys’ was superb considering they only had just over a weeks notice and they certainly didn’t let themselves down, only losing 38 – 33 to a much more youthful team. St Helens legend Alex Murphy was the coach for the Legends team that night and it was also a special night for James Bell, whose family had paid an incredible £1035 for him to play along side the Legends team. James played really well and scored 2 tries.
Engage Mutual Keep On Running
The October Engage Mutual Keep on Running Challenge was by far Steve's hardest challenge so Far. A small group of participants attempted to run 5 marathons in 5 days from Hull to the Grand Final in Manchester.
The fifth and final leg of the ‘Keep On Running’ multiple-marathon challenge was then completed in the Engage Mutual Fanzone at Old Trafford.
Familiar faces including, Terry O’Connor, Martin Offiah MBE, Shaun Briscoe, Steve McNamara, Angela Powers, Ben Thaler and Sid The Pig was among the celebrity fund-raisers to run a mile of the final marathon on the treadmill and, fittingly Steve’s nine-year-old son, Taylor ran the very last mile.
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Netflights League At War II Boxing
Following on from the original League At War, staged at the Reebok Stadium. The Netflights League at War II night in late November was a resounding success. A lot of hard work went into the organising of the night to transform Sutton High sports hall into a boxing arena. The night saw former Rugby League players take to the ring all in aid of Charity and of course to settle a few old scores. Former Middleweight Champion John Conteh refereed all bouts and it is fair to say that John was not the strictest of referees and he let all the boxers bash each other around the ring. The boxing would not have looked out of place on Friday or Saturday night TV. It was great for the people who had paid their money to be entertained, but Steve said at times he had to cover up his eyes. There were no losers on the night, everyone tried their hardest and put on a great show. The boxers showed tremendous courage putting their bodies and reputations on the line. They all put a lot of time and effort into their training to put on a good show, which helped raise over £20000.
Events in 2011
Hattons Solicitors St Helens 10k run
2011 started with all the SPF efforts going into organising St Helens' inaugural 10k run, this took place in March with over 800 very enthusiastic participants taking on a very challenging course. Starting and finished in the town centre encompassing the dreaded North Road hill made it a real tough challenge. Hattons Solicitors very generously sponsored the event which was won by John Ashcroft In a time of 33.13 min. Local brave hero Andy Reid who was injured by a IED in Afghanistan, managed to walk 2k unaided on prosthetic carbon fibre legs and was greeted with a rapturous applause as he crossed the line.
Golf Day at Wilmslow for McMillan
In May, Steve was invited to play golf at Wilmslow golf club by the chairman of St Helens RLFC Eamonn McManus in aid of The McMillan Cancer charity. Steve's 4 ball, who was made up with Eamonn, Steve, current head coach Mike Rush and double man of steel winner Paul Sculthorpe, where beaten, finishing in 2nd place, by current saints players Jamie Foster, Paul Wellens, Jon Wilkin and Francis Meli who seem to have turned up with some very questionable handicaps!! A great day was had by all and much needed funds where raise for a great charity.
3rd Irn Bru Taylor Park Challenge
Also in May, the SPF organised its annual Taylor Park Challenge, this year sponsored by Irn Bru. 10 Teams battled it out to be the coveted Taylor Park Champions. Lauren Grace named after Team Captain Alan Hale’s daughter managed to take the crown off the Horizon Group. The Horizon Team did manage to win the prestigious Dragon Boat Tournament. Once again the crowd were Entertained by 3 Great Live Bands headlined by local group Marble Eyes, the Jackie Bond Band started the proceedings by rocking Taylor Park. Another successful Day.
Engage Mutual End to End Extreme
Arguably the toughest task to date was undertaken in June 2011, 15 Intrepid Volunteers joined Steve and cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats in Nine days. As always with the SPF, this was not considered to be “Extreme” enough so it was decided that they would scale the Three National Peaks along the way, Snowden, Scafell & Ben Nevis. This meant at times, it was necessity to cycle more than 100 miles and climb a mountain in one day.
The Event was hugely beneficial financially and raised more than £30,000 to the cause.
After completing this great Challenge, Steve described finishing the Engage Mutual End-to-End Extreme, what has been his toughest challenge ever as ‘absolutely fantastic’ and paid tribute to those who completed the challenge alongside him:
“There has been a great team ethic where we all helped each other, stuck together and laughed our way through it. It has been a great group to cycle with over these nine days and everybody played a part in getting me over the line.”
Steve was in ‘absolute agony’ from his knees and achilles on Saturday (day 8) as the team faced into Ben Nevis. But with encouragement and support he somehow kept going. Having completed the ascent and descent in less than 6 hours, they then tackled the eighty miles to their stop off point for the day.
Sunshine heralded the start of the final day (day 9). It was 113 miles to the finish at John O’Groats but with the ice treatment and anti inflammatories of the evening before taking effect, Steve found this his best cycling day.
“Half way through I had a bit of a bad spell when I was finding it tough but we refuelled I got myself together and carried on, he said. “Big Jon Neil was great today, I managed to hide behind him most of the way, out of the way of the wind! It was probably my best day cycling wise, I was up near the front and felt pretty good – so much better than yesterday. “
“It was a fantastic feeling crossing the line at John O’Groats – we all felt amazing. The whole team have been absolutely fantastic, we all got on brilliantly
“It has been the hardest event I have ever done. It’s tested me mentally and it has been extremely emotional. I was worried about getting through it but huge credit to every single person for their support.”
RL Touchathon – For The Christie
June also saw The SPF invited to support the RL Touchathon organised by the North West RL Development Officers. This was a great success and over 800 people took part and played Touch Rugby.
Great friend of the SPF Jimmy Rothwell invited the SPF to take part in the Annual Nine’s competition in York during July. This also benefitted the Charity by £1000 as proceeds were split with a local charity. The SPF managed to win the Tournament.
Blundells Hill Golf Day
As part of Tony Pimbletts Captaincy of Blundell’s Hill Golf Club, Tony organised a series of Events at the Rainhill Golf Course. The Main Event of the year was the Golf Day with other 20 teams taking part. In the Evening the guests were entertained by Rugby League Legend Garry Schofield and Master of Ceremonies Karl Kirkpatrick. In Total Tony’s efforts throughout the year raised more than £6000 and a great time was had by all.
Hattons Solicitors Race Day Haydock
SPF supporters from the very beginning Hattons Solicitors celebrated their 10 Year Anniversary by inviting Staff, Friends and the SPF to a Race Day at Haydock Park. Additional Entertainment on the Evening was Supergroup the Scissor Sisters. The Wakefield Wildcat Dolls held a bucket collection on behalf of the SPF and over £2500 was raised.
Wigan Vets Bike Ride
Malcolm Holland once again arranged is annual Wigan Vets Bike Ride along the Canal from Wigan to Chorley and back. Over 50 Cyclists took part and over £1000 was donated.
Wish Communications Golf Day - Aug 2011
Located in the picturesque settings of Oulton Hall Leeds, Garry Schofield OBE on behalf of Wish Communications. Ex Player’s and Officials supported this incredible Day of Golf. 20 Teams took part and survived an impromptu Thunder Storm. Pendle Designs managed to lift the Inaugural Trophy.
St Helen's Windows Dream Trail
This Event was organised by Antony Young & St Helens Sutton AC. It was staged around the iconic Dream Statue in St Helens and provided a severe test for Club & local Athletes. Once Again John Ashcroft, the winner of the Inaugural 10k Run was the Victor. A Big Thank You has to go to Antony Young for the organisation of this event.
As part of the 2011 Sponsorship Steve was the Guest of Honour at the Man Of Steel Dinner and the Engage Mutual Grand Final. Collections were made at both Events on behalf of the SPF.
Steve was also asked by Engage Mutual to be the Guest Speaker at the House of Lords for the Mutuals Society. This was a great honour.
Scarlet Gooseberry Walk/ Imperial Race Day
Rugby League Fanatic “The Scarlet Gooseberry” Undertook an incredible solitary walk from St Helens Swansea to St Helens RLFC Club. This phenomenal effort raised an incredible £3000. On the final day Mickey Griffiths was joined by several SPF members and walked from Warrington to St Helens. Once the walk was finished, celebrations were help in The Imperial Nightclub were a Race Day was staged.
Events in 2012
Steve was approached by St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus to take up a coaching position with the Under 20’s at St Helens Rugby League Club. This opportunity was taken up by Steve and at the end of January, Steve assisted Under 20s Head Coach Ian Talbot on the first Under 20s Match of the Season.
St Helens Chamber Annual Dinner
The SPF were graciously invited as a beneficiary to the St Helens Chamber Annual Dinner Awards Evening. This Event raised over £5500 that was divided between the SPF and Willowbrook Hospice.
GPW Legal Services St Helens 10k Run
After last year’s Inaugural St Helens 10k Run, The SPF moved location to the New Langtree Park Stadium, the Home of St Helens Rugby League Club. This proved to be a fantastic success with over 1300 Athletes committing to the 10k Run. Five Local Charities also benefitted with over £50,000 raised for the great causes. Local Hero Andy Reid, managed to run 4k on specially designed Carbon Fibre Blades. John Ashcroft retained his Title with a superb run of 34.14 Min
Engage Mutual Paris to London Marathon Challenge
Steve was joined by Paul Sculthorpe on an Epic Challenge that consisted of Running the Paris Marathon, Cycling from Paris to Calais, Rowing across the English Channel, Cycling from Dover to London and finishing with the Virgin London Marathon.
The Initial plans were to Kayak across the English Channel but unfortunately the Weather conspired against the intrepid duo and a contingency of Rowing the Channel was put in place. Former Team Mates Bernard Dwyer, Steve Hall & Chris Joynt drove down to Dover with 24 hours to assist Paul & Steve across the Channel. The actual Row took 7 and a Half hours.
This Event gave the SPF tremendous publicity as Steve & Scully were interviewed by Sue Barker & the BBC as the headline to their BBC London Marathon coverage.
This Event also raised a fantastic £22,000
Subway RL Touchathon
Organised by the North West Rugby League Development Officers, the SPF took part in the Second RL Touchathon. It is hoped that we have broken the World Record for the most players to take part in a continuous game of Touch Rugby League. This has still to be verified.
4th Irn Bru Taylor Park Challenge
A Record 14 Teams took part in the Annual Taylor Park Day. This year the SPF decided to bring in It’s a Knockout to the proceedings along with Rodeo Rugby Bull, Archery, Tug Of War and the mandatory Dragon Boating. Lauren Grace successfully retained the overall trophy.
Here are the top 4 places:
1st Lauren Grace 54 points
2nd Royal Mail 50 points
3rd Tony Barrow Fitness 46 points
4th Helena Partnerships 2 & Alex Jacob 45 points
The Day was supported by Jamm Studios who supplied three great live bands who entertained throughout the day.
Jon Wilkin Testimonial Race Day Haydock Park
We are pleased to announce that Jon Wilkin has graciously selected the SPF as his Charity Partner for his forthcoming well deserved Testimonial Season. His first event was a fantastic Race Day at Haydock Park. The Sun was shining and the Winners were flowing as Steve managed to back the last four winners. Jon has an incredible array of fundraising activities lined up for his year and the SPF will support the season as much as possible.
Thank You for your Support
Members of the Foundation
Martin Blondel (07971 792859)
Michael Denning Chairman
Alex Chicken Treasurer
Trustees of the Foundation
Michael Denning, Linzi Prescott & Ade Cunliffe
Paul Griffiths, Joanne Griffiths MBE, Steve Gavin, John Parry, Cathy Varley, Roy Chicken
Website Development & Support
Gerry Payne of Bluefish Digital