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Pro’s fundraising helps lead to breakthrough in cancer research


PGA Fellow professional Sarah Bennett’s fundraising to finance research into the rare type of cancer that caused the death of Wendy Lodder, a close friend, has helped scientists make a major breakthrough.

Lodder, an England Golf under-18 east region volunteer manager, was diagnosed with advanced thymic carcinoma in October 2016 and succumbed to the disease two years later aged 52.

Little was known about the condition at the time as cases were rare but the proceeds from two fundraising golf days have been instrumental in advancing the research.

“Initial research has reached the discovery stage, which is a worldwide first,” said Bennett, the head coach at Three Rivers Golf and Country Club in Chelmsford, Essex. “It’s an encouraging start and great news.”

Lodder, who had been treated at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital, London, passed away just three months after the first fundraising golf day she and Bennett held at Three Rivers.

The event, which was attended by six-time world champion snooker player, Steve Davis, and two-time Ladies European Tour winner, Joanne Mills, raised £18,000.

Sadly, Lodder did not survive long enough to find out how the money would be spent, nevertheless Bennett has vowed to carry on fundraising.

“Wendy knew that the research wasn’t going to benefit her,” Bennett explained. “But she wanted her legacy to prevent other people from having to undergo the invasive surgery and continuous treatment that she endured for two years. I’m determined to carry out her wish.”

To that end another golf day organised by Bennett earlier this year has taken the total raised to more than £20,000.

“It was a very different event without Wendy there,” added Bennett, the 2018 winner of The PGA’s Toby Sunderland Award for her charity work.

“But it was really positive – we celebrated her life and the colossal amount of money we raised last year.

“One golfing girl donated a trophy that will be played for annually and we have already set a date for next year. It will be held on June 18th and we’re looking forward to another wonderful event.

“Golf was Wendy’s life and passion and nothing kept her stronger than working with her young England squad, even during her treatments.

“She was awarded the prestigious England Golf Volunteer Manager of the Year award for her commitment and devotion to the game she loved.

“It’s exciting to know the money raised is going to help experts at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and worldwide to better understand this rare cancer, which will ultimately lead to improved treatment options for people with the condition.”