FRIENDSHIP is at the heart of a documentary charting a late Warwickshire journalist’s fight against cancer which will premiere at charity screenings in Leamington next month.
Matt Bates battled for two years against a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer before the former Observer reporter passed away in October 2016 at the age of just 27.
Three of Matt’s closest friends, who together were all members of Central Ajax FC, undertook a cycle ride from the club’s Warwick ground to the stadium of their famous namesake in Amsterdam. Sam Canty, Matt Wells and Joe Weston raised over £16,000 to support their friend and team-mate.
Matt Canty and Matt Crowther made the documentary ‘Ajax to Ajax’ charting the ride and also detailing Matt’s thoughts and feelings before his death.
Alongside the riders, the documentary also gives insight into how Matt’s diagnosis, treatment and death affected his friends and family, and how it drove him to create music – he released an album titled ‘Fightback’ two days before his death – and others to rally round their friend in his time of need.
Matt’s dad Bill said: “The documentary film was made to highlight the Ajax to Ajax fund-raising effort, but it was so much more than that.
“The inspirational film highlights the power of friendship and how the community and people we didn’t even know came together for Matthew and for our family. The documentary gives an insight into Matthew’s journey through cancer, but it also highlights how his experience rippled out into the wider community and created an outpouring of love and support.
“It was one of Matthew’s last wishes that the film should still be shown after his death.”
The documentary will be premiered at Leamington’s Spa Centre on Saturday June 23. There will be screening at at 3.30pm and 7pm. Tickets are available online through the group’s Facebook page ‘Ajax to Ajax: The Documentary’ priced £7.50 per ticket. USB sticks with the film on will also be available to buy.
All money raised will go to the specialist Christie Hospital in Manchester, where Matt was treated, to enable others to receive the same high level of care as Matt.