Former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond recently joined a heartwarming event at Mattwood, a car show dedicated to a young cancer patient, Matt Pollard. The festival, aimed at supporting Matt and his family, showcased the automotive community’s solidarity and generosity.
- Celebrity Support: The event was graced by celebrities like Richard Hammond and Mike Brewer, who came to support Matt Pollard, a 20-year-old car enthusiast diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Hammond’s presence, along with other notable figures, added a significant emotional weight to the festival.
- Community Effort: Organised by YouTuber Alex Kersten and his team, the festival was put together in just 12 days. It featured a special renovation of a red Mk1 MX5 for Matt, which was funded through community contributions and expert help, highlighting the power of the community in times of need.
- Fundraising Success: The festival not only served as a platform for Matt’s dream to come true but also helped in raising over £33,000 through a JustGiving account. This fund aims to support Matt and his family, demonstrating the impact of collective efforts in providing financial aid during challenging times.
Former Top Gear host Richard Hammond recently joined a festival to support a young car fanatic, Matt Pollard, who is battling terminal cancer. The event, named Mattwood, was held in Goodwood, West Sussex, and saw nearly 1,000 attendees come together for a noble cause.
Mattwood was not just another car show; it was a symbol of hope and solidarity. It was named in honour of Matt Pollard, diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 19. The event was attended by prominent figures such as Alex Kersten, a YouTuber and the organiser, and Mike Brewer, the TV presenter of Wheeler Dealers.
Matt expressed his gratitude and surprise at the event:
“To arrive and see two of the most influential car people in the world, Richard Hammond and Mike Brewer, at a car show arranged for me was truly amazing. They were both lovely people and 10 times nicer than I could ever have imagined. It was quite overwhelming, I couldn’t believe it”.
Richard Hammond, deeply moved by the event, shared his thoughts with the Sunday People:
“As soon as I found out about it I thought, ‘I’ve got to be there.’ We had a chat and talked about his love of cars. He’s a great lad with a bright sense of humour and he’s a proper inspiration. It felt tremendous to be part of it. He was full of joy for the whole day. It was genuinely moving.”
The festival was a rapid response to Matt’s wish. Alex Kersten and his video producer Rory McKie organised it in just 12 days after Matt reached out, asking for help to renovate a red Mk1 MX5. The car, a gift from Matt’s dad Andy, was inspired by Alex’s own online project. The community and experts helped raise £10,000 for the car’s improvements, making the presentation to Matt, his dad Andy, and sister Livvi a memorable moment.
Matt, from Thursley, Surrey, even got a tattoo of the MX5 on his thigh during the event before driving the car on the Goodwood circuit. Hammond recalled the emotional moment of Matt’s arrival:
“We all formed an arch when he arrived and he was driven in and got out of the car. We gave him a wild round of applause. He looked around and you could see he was bowled over by the fact there was a crowd and then he started recognising friends in it and then he saw Mike Brewer standing next to me and his jaw fell. It was a lovely thing to be part of and everybody there felt really, really privileged to be part of it and to be able to show him some love.”
Matt’s personal battle is intertwined with his family’s challenges. His mother, Lisa, is fighting lymphoma. Diagnosed with a tumour in April, Matt underwent two brain operations and was later told he had stage four brain cancer. While inoperable, he is currently on chemo tablets to slow the cancer’s growth.
The JustGiving account set up by Alex has been a beacon of hope, raising more than £33,000 for Matt and his family. Alex’s emotional connection to Matt’s story was evident:
“Matt emailed me asking, ‘Can you help bring a smile to my dad’s face?’ because his dad has been the rock of the family recently. I’ll never forget the subject line of the email, which was ‘detail and brain tumour’. He told me about his story and how his mum has cancer, and he wanted to get the car fixed up to surprise his dad.
“He said he wanted to say, ‘Thank you for looking after me, my mum and dedicating his time and life to improving ours’’. I’ll be honest, when I got off the phone to him I cried and I don’t remember the last time I did that.”