Owners of a luxury yacht are offering people the chance to win a party on board to help raise money towards potentially life-saving treatment for a father fighting cancer.
Mark Towens, from Gravesend, is harbour master for the Port of London Authority in charge of shipping on the River Thames through central London, and when colleagues heard of his battle, they wanted to help.
He was first diagnosed with melanoma after finding a mole while fishing on holiday in 2003 and was given the all-clear following an operation.
But 12 years later, the cancer had returned and had spread to his lungs and liver through the blood stream, despite never smoking and not being a heavy drinker.
The 39-year-old was due to take part in a clinical trial at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London but after discovering a few weeks ago the cancer had spread to his brain, he was no longer eligible for the treatment on the NHS.
His last hope is for TIL (tumour infiltrating lymphocytes) treatment in either the USA or Israel.
A fundraising page for £100,000 was set up by his sister Joanne and within days, hundreds of people had donated thousands of pounds. As of today, it’s already passed £72,000.
Time is of the essence for Mark – who has children Jamie, 11, and Katie, eight, with wife Claire – so friends, family and those who work on the river with him are doing everything they can to keep donations coming in.
Tom Woods and his family, who own Wood’s Silver Fleet, are among them. When they heard about Mark’s story, they contacted his sister and offered to help.
The firm runs private charter events on its yachts in London from two to 550 people.
Guests aboard previously include Prince William and Prince Charles, tennis stars Robert Federer and Rafael Nadal, actress Joanna Lumley and singer Lewis Capaldi.
Wood’s has now launched a raffle to win a private party for 120 on the Thames river yacht Silver Sturgeon in 2021.
There are 1,000 tickets available which cost £50 each but the prize is worth approximately £28,000.
The winner and their party will enjoy a glass of bubbly and a two-course lunch with fine wine while cruising the Thames for four hours.
It closes at 6pm on Friday, July 31.
Go to bit.ly/marktowens to enter.
You can also donate directly to the fun at at www.gofundme.com/f/marks-last-hope