Newcastle to Beadnell: Keeping a promise to Sam

On May 16th 2020, Sam Fitzsimmons lost his battle with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer that he had fought for two years. Sam was someone who had that uncanny ability to connect with all those who he encountered. His eyes shone with empathy and curiosity, whilst his smile was the warmest (and cheekiest!) I have ever known. A diligent student who possessed a drive to learn, a fantastic sportsman who led naturally, and a keen traveller who was intrigued by the world and its different cultures were just the immediately obvious aspects of Sam's brilliant character!

Exactly a year ago, I had the privilege of accompanying Sam to Thailand for 12 top days of Chang-drinking, jungle-trekking, and breeze-shooting. Despite having undergone some exhausting chemotherapy in the week prior, Sam thought that this brief excursion was exactly what the doctor to say it wasn't, but when did sensible advice stop Sam from living his life? 

Whilst we sat on a beach in Ko Tao, I promised Sam that next on the world tour would be a visit to Beadnell beach in Northumberland. I had recounted so many fond stories of my childhood there, and naturally he wanted to see what all the fuss was about and delight in his friend's nostalgia. Unfortunately, Sam never got to see Beadnell as his condition quickly deteriorated last Spring.

In typical Fitzy fashion, he endeavoured to help those he loved overcome any troubles they were facing, whether great or small, regardless of his own health. He tirelessly sought to remind all of their worth and ability, and did so on countless occasions for me personally. The true indication of Sam's indomitable spirit and unwavering positivity is that he continues to inspire all those who knew him. The remarkable principles by which he lived have been shared fondly by all of us in these trying times; they serve as constant reminders of his pervading power to uplift, support, and love. 

Sam reminded us to:

"Be grateful for your family, your friends and your existence"

"Smile, laugh, be happy, as if it's your last day, as if it's the only one that counts"

"Strive to improve the lives of everyone you meet, at every opportunity, at every moment." 

The fact that a 23 year-old was able to share these sentiments in face of such misfortune is a sign of his lucid perception and ready understanding of the things that mattered. Here was the perfect example of someone showing the utmost gratitude for the joys of life, and he certainly he enriched all of ours with such a profound and powerful philosophy.

In light of Sam's life, the Fitzsimmons family and St John's College Cambridge have established a bursary fund to assist state-school students in pursuing those opportunities which Sam had grasped enthusiastically whilst at university. The Sam Fitzsimmons Fund will provide for disadvantaged students to engage in college sport and also offer travel grants for those seeking to explore the globe. This fund hopes to stand as a fitting tribute to a man who wanted to share his great experiences with those around him, and to generously encourage all to live a life full of adventure and achievement.

Furthermore, Sam's parents Dom and Cath have also established Fitzy's Fund in conjunction with Bone Cancer Research UK. This charity seeks to support the ongoing research into various bone cancers such as Ewing's sarcoma. Many of Sam's family and friends have contributed their time and effort in raising money for such an important cause, and I hope to show my thanks to these great people by embarking on my own little challenge.

To honour Sam's courage, altruism, and zeal for living, I will be keeping that promise I made to him a year ago (I can also hear his Cheshire accent nagging my conscience with claims of "all bark and no bite", so this will hopefully make hime give it a rest!) I will be running 76km from Newcastle to Beadnell beach on June 26th in support of both the Sam Fitzsimmon's Bursary Fund and the Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT). It would be great to have some support along the way because I will certainly need it: I am calling on all chat cannons and banter merchants to join me for certain stages of the run regardless of athletic ability. 

I am aware that this is all very dependent on what will be permissible by the summer, but the plan is that the Smiths will be glad to host and cater for all those who come to celebrate Sam's life and the lessons he taught us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for allowing me to share some memories of a truly outstanding best friend.

All donations, no matter their size, would be greatly appreciated.

Love you, and miss you, Sam. 



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Charlie Smith 
Newcastle Upon Tyne, North East England, United Kingdom
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