Inspirational film about Whitnash man’s cancer battle shows the power of community 
and amazing friendship

Matt Bates NNL-170522-162806001
Matt Bates NNL-170522-162806001

An inspirational documentary about the late Whitnash songwriter and journalist Matt Bates’s battle with cancer will be screened in Leamington.

Matt, who worked for the Coventry Observer and Stratford Herald newspapers, died of Kidney cancer aged 27 in October 2016.

Matt Bates

Matt Bates

During his treatment three of his friends Sam Canty, Matt Wells and Joe Weston cycled from Central Ajax FC in Warwick to Ajax Amsterdam FC in the Netherlands and raised more than £16,000 for the specialist Christie Hospital in Manchester, where Matt was treated, to enable others to receive the same high level of care that he did.

The ride was filmed, and a documentary was made, by Matt Canty and Matt Crowther detailing the cyclists experiences as well as Matt Bates’ thoughts and feelings before his death.

Alongside the riders, the documentary also gives an insight into how Matt’s diagnosis, treatment and death affected his friends and family, and how it drove him to create music and others to rally around their friend in his time of need.

Bill Bates, Matt’s dad, said: “The documentary film was made to highlight the Ajax to Ajax fundraising 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.”

Ajax to Ajax: The Documentary is premiering at the Spa Centre on June 23 and will have two showings at 3.30pm and 7pm.

Tickets, which cost £7.50, are available online through the group’s Facebook page and all the money raised will go to the hospital.

Before he died, Matt was able to achieve his musical dream by writing, recording and releasing 100 copies of his album Fightback.

It documented his two-year battle with cancer which started back in 2014.

Before he died, Matt said he hoped the album would leave a lasting positive impact on those who hear it.

He said: “I know I won’t be around forever but my music will be and that means a lot. It leaves something behind for my family to cherish too which is great.

“I’ve been determined to love life and live positively since my diagnosis and I hope that comes across in Fightback.

“These obviously aren’t the circumstances in which I wanted to release the album but if it can give people a smile and a lift in life then that’s good enough for me.”

Fightback is available to download on iTunes and Amazon or streamed on Spotify.