A loving son is raising money to fulfill his father’s wish after being diagnosed with a serious illness. Neil Saunders, 62, was told he had colon cancer last year and despite six months of chemotherapy, doctors have informed Neil that he now has stage four cancer.

Neil, who ‘has driven the length and breadth of Nottinghamshire’ as a bus driver for 41 years, has now returned to undergoing rounds of immunotherapy, which his son, also named Neil, says could help prolong his life. Neil Snr raised his family in Hucknall and has long been a fan of airplanes., and as a former member of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, he has always had an affinity for Spitfires.

While scrolling through Facebook last week, Neil Jnr discovered that Carolyn Grace, Britain’s only Spitfire pilot, had sadly passed away in December 2022.

Carolyn Grace ran a company called AirLeasing LTD, which allows the public to take a ride in a Spitfire. Now, Neil Jnr has started a gofundme page to try and raise money to help his dad take a walk.

Neil with his granddaughter Harper-Rose

She says that when she told her dad about the plan, she “cried.” Since then, she has spoken about his father’s battle with cancer and his desire to fulfill his wish to travel in a Spitfire.

Neil Jnr, who also works as a bus driver, said: “He’s had cancer for just over a year. I think it was the last Thursday of the Thursday before he had any more scans.”

“And they told him it had spread through his lymph nodes. So the diagnosis is now it’s inoperable.”

“But they’ve been trying different types of chemotherapy. She’s already had six months of chemotherapy and it was deemed unsuccessful.”

“So they’ve had to try different routes for him and now they’ve come up with this one. This one is being done to prolong his life.”

“It hasn’t been classified as terminal yet, but I think stage four is in that vein. It’s about extending its life now and getting the most out of it.”

“That’s why I started the gofundme page. He’s always been on his planes and I was sitting in my kitchen last week and I was going through Facebook and I just saw this post about Mrs. Spitfire who recently died (Carolyn Grace).

β€œShe ran a company that does flights in Spitfires and things like that. That got me thinking, ‘I can raise money for that.’

“So I looked at the website that does the flights and that’s where the idea came from. So I talked to the family first and they thought it was a good idea.”

“Then I set up the gofundme page and talked to my dad about it and he ended up crying in the kitchen when I told him about it. It’s something he always wanted to do.”

“It would be something special.”

Neil Snr says he is “obsessed” with Spitfires, having lived next to Hucknall Airfield for a number of years. Despite his diagnosis, Neil continues to work and says he doesn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for himself.

He said: “Well, I live right next to Hucknall airfield. I used to watch it fly and I love the way it sounds and how it looks.”

“I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I go to as many air shows as I can and go see an exhibition and whatever.

“I used to be a member of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and every time I go to Skeggy I go to see if they’re around. I’ve been a bus driver for 41 years.”

“I am free today because I have to receive a treatment, immunotherapy. It is my first session of that particular treatment today.

“Sometimes I feel a little lethargic, but in general, I basically do everything I normally do, because that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself and feeling like somebody.” owes me something.”

To donate to Neil’s gofundme page, click here.

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