Fernando Pinho of 'Please Take Me There' cancer charity aims to raise £40,000 to keep aircraft flying
A groundbreaking programme which delivers free flights for children and adults suffering with cancer is facing a financial crisis.
Cambridge-based Please Take Me There (PTMT) needs another £40,000 to enable it to continue its ‘Fly Through Cancer’ programme which flies sick children across the country for treatment.
In a bid to ease its funding crisis, founder Fernando Pinho has started a fundraising drive which will see him spend a week in the charity’s small aircraft, based at Fowlmere Airfield, to urgently raise the cash.
Launched in October last year, the programme brings much-needed hope and joy to families in the region that have seriously ill children or adults.
PTMT has flown more than 100 people in the private aircraft to treatment, to reunite them with family, and in some cases, taking terminally ill patients to their favourite place one last time.
It relies totally on donations and it desperately needs to raise funds in order to continue flying.
Mr Pinho began his week-long stint inside the aircraft on Monday (May 6) with his progress broadcast live on the charity’s social media pages. In 2015, he slept rough in 11 airports over a period of 65 days in order to raise funds for the charity’s international programmes.
In this latest challenge, he expects once again to get very little sleep and will only be allowed to leave the aircraft for a maximum of 10 minutes for toilet breaks, every few hours. The space is small and there is nowhere to lie down to sleep, move freely, or prepare a meal. He will be in a sitting position for almost the entire week and will rely on the local community, family and friends to help him complete the challenge.
Mr Pinho said: “My brother was only 11 when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and my family went through hell. I was shocked to discover that many children with cancer are never diagnosed – never cured – simply because they cannot reach the hospitals or treatment they need, so I gave up my job and over the past five years, I’ve been able to help hundreds of children and adults with cancer.
“So far, we have offered more than 3,000 journeys in the UK and internationally, but we are in serious need of extra funding to continue with our work getting children to the treatment and support they need.
“I think being very cold and uncomfortable for a week is a small price to pay if we can keep this programme going and help more people.”
For many people who are seriously ill, there’s a hidden cost – travelling to and from treatment centres. A recent study revealed that families of children and adults with cancer have an average of £600 in additional expenses every month – a third of that goes on transport-related costs.