The ex-footballer, Geoff Thomas, has been on a mission to help fight blood cancer after being given three months to live in 2003, raising millions of pounds for Birmingham-based Cure Leukaemia and being honoured by the Queen
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I am a former footballer who made over 450 appearances for Crystal Palace, Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Crewe, Rochdale, Barnsley and Notts County. I was capped nine times for England. I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003 and given just three months to live. Thanks to treatment from Cure Leukaemia co-founder professor Charlie Craddock CBE and a transplant from my sister Kay, I went into remission in early 2005 and rode my first Tour de France challenge later that year. After that challenge I was honoured to receive the Helen Rollason award at BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Since 2005, I have dedicated my life to raising funds to save the lives of blood cancer patients and in July 2021 completed my fifth Tour de France challenge. Our Tour 21 team of 18 amateur cyclists had raised over £1million for Cure Leukaemia by the time we arrived in Paris. I was very proud to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for my services to charity.
IT’S WHAT I DO
I am a proud patron of Cure Leukaemia which has its roots here in the Midlands. I am heavily involved in driving the charity forward, raising awareness of the brilliant work it supports and searching for new opportunities for funding. My driving force will always be patients and those that lost their battles back when I was fighting for my life.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
Since my cancer battle my ambitions have been very simple; to live as full and as happy a life as possible while also playing a part in eradicating blood cancer. I will not stop doing what I can to ensure we have effective treatments for all forms of the disease.
Many would expect I would choose a match from my footballing days but my proudest moment has to be riding into Paris this summer and seeing our fund-raising tick over the £1million mark.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
After being diagnosed with blood cancer it makes you re-evaluate what is important. My priorities became my family, looking after myself and the planet and making a lasting difference for others.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
I was born in Manchester and everyone up there likes to make a lot of noise about the fact they are the Second City. Sorry, but Birmingham IS the Second City and it just gets on with it without all the noise! It is growing every year and is every inch a major UK city with huge businesses now making it their home.
Spending time with my family at home in Worcestershire is a big part of how I unwind. I love seeing the world and I hope we can travel to Japan later this year.
I said before this year’s Tour event that it would be my last – but someone said they would ride next year but only if I did it as well and he agreed to raise £100,000 for Cure Leukaemia. So, I think I will be back in the saddle next summer and perhaps this time we could aim for £2million…