Harry to re­mem­ber his dad with emo­tional visit

Gloucestershire Echo - - BRAIN TEASER -

A RAC­ING fan has trag­i­cally died from can­cer just weeks be­fore he was due to make a dream trip to the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val, or­gan­ised by the power of so­cial me­dia.

Stu­art Lu­cock was sent com­pli­men­tary tick­ets by the race­course af­ter his son Harry shared the dev­as­tat­ing news on so­cial me­dia that his con­di­tion was ter­mi­nal.

In re­sponse to the Septem­ber 30 tweet, which had more than 13,000 in­ter­ac­tions, there were many acts of kind­ness from mem­bers of the Glouces­ter­shire rac­ing com­mu­nity.

Train­ers Mar­tin Keigh­ley and Fer­gal O’brien were among those to of­fer Mr Lu­cock a visit to their yards ahead of his planned day out on March 14, St Pa­trick’s Thurs­day, while oth­ers shared their own heart­break­ing sto­ries about how their fam­i­lies had been af­fected by the dis­ease.

On Fri­day, Harry sadly let them know his dad, who had thy­roid can­cer which spread to his lymph nodes and lungs, had died at the age of 57.

“I would have paid ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing to get him to Chel­tenham,” said the 21-year-old. “Un­for­tu­nately it wasn’t to be.

“He was told on Jan­uary 10 he only had a few days to live but he made it to Fe­bru­ary. He was so tough.

“When he saw the sup­port from the rac­ing in­dus­try he was thrilled to pieces. It was re­ally kind of ev­ery­one to help.

“He was taken aback when the tick­ets ar­rived from the Home of Jump Rac­ing. There are so many peo­ple to thank.”

A for­mer par­cel sorter for Royal Mail, Mr Lu­cock loved rac­ing for as long as his son can re­mem­ber.

They made trips to many grey­hound sta­di­ums to­gether and he would en­joy putting on a small daily bet.

Dur­ing the fi­nal weeks of his life, he was watch­ing on TV and saw the amaz­ing per­for­mance of Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val favourite Al­tior at As­cot on Jan­uary 19.

His wife Kate, who was with him at St Fran­cis Hospice in Haver­ing-at­te­bower near Lon­don, gave up her job as a bet­ting shop man­ager for Bet­fred to be his carer.

“When we were there he was telling me all about his favourite rac­ing mem­o­ries,” Harry con­tin­ued.

“He saw Desert Or­chid win one of the King Ge­orges at Kemp­ton. He had been to Chel­tenham once be­fore, I think it was the New Year’s Day meet­ing.

“I didn’t think I would be able to visit without him, but when he was very ill he told me I should go in his hon­our.

“He wanted me to en­joy The Fes­ti­val. That can be our trea­sured mem­ory.”

Next month’s oc­ca­sion will be ex­tra poignant as Harry will be wear­ing the suit jacket his dad had spe­cially made for the Chel­tenham trip.

It was ac­tu­ally a gift from Rich Ricci, one of rac­ing’s most prom­i­nent own­ers who heard about his plight and asked if he could help.

He sent his tai­lor Rus­sell Howarth to mea­sure up for a smart out­fit and has now of­fered to re­fit the gar­ment to Harry’s size.

The day be­fore Mr Lu­cock passed away, they met up for a pint, as the orig­i­nal suit was ready.

“For some­one like Rich Ricci, who is such a big name in the sport, to go and above and be­yond for us in in­cred­i­ble,” added Harry. “He pretty much is Mr Chel­tenham.

“Wear­ing dad’s jacket will be a lovely touch, it’ll be as if he is there with me. In his mem­ory I’m go­ing to at­tend The Fes­ti­val ev­ery year without fail.”

A spokes­woman for Chel­tenham

Rich Ricci sent his per­sonal tai­lor to mea­sure Stu­art for a spe­cial out­fit, which so Harry will now wear to Chel­tenham

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