Local community comes together to fundraise for hospice in memory of Melissa

Members of the Doncaster community have rallied round to support a local teacher to raise funds for the hospice in memory of his fiancée.

Brandon Burke set about fundraising in memory of his fiancée Melissa Mountford, who spent her final two weeks in December 2022 at St John’s Hospice in Balby, aged 25, after being diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer.

Brandon, who had recently got engaged to Melissa, after four years of living together, never left her side during her time at the hospice and wanted to give something back after experiencing the best possible care and support from the St John’s team.

Brandon said: “The staff at St John’s Hospice looked after Melissa and all of her loved ones so well, nothing was too much trouble, she was even able to have her hair and nails done while she was there.”

A keen sportsman and Yorkshire Main FC player, Brandon organised a football tournament and raffle at Mexborough Athletic Sports Club to raise funds on Saturday 25 March in Melissa’s memory and was overwhelmed by the support from local companies, friends and families who came on board to make the day a success.

He said: “It was an amazing, but emotional day. I’m very grateful to everyone for making the event such a success. When we saw the total raised was £4,636, we knew Melissa would have been so proud.”

As word got around about Brandon’s fundraising, even more people came on board to support him. A group of Melissa’s friends completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, raising £450.

His former pupils also took up the gauntlet – XP School in Middle Bank set up a tuck shop and the teachers got a proper soaking when they agreed to have sponges thrown at them, raising £1,000. This was boosted by over £700 when 14-year- old Alfie Nelson and his mum Donna took part in a Tough Mudder.

Meanwhile, at Ridgewood School in Scawsby, where both Melissa and Brandon attended, and where his sister Ruby currently studies, pupils organised a non-uniform day, adding another £1,000 to the total.

Brandon said: “In total we’ve raised £7,868, so I’d like to pay tribute to everyone for their wonderful support!”

“Thanks also to all my friends, family, and work colleagues for their personal support given to me over the last eight months. And finally, thank you to the wonderful staff at the Hospice and at J Steadman and Sons for their care and kindness.”

Hospice Fundraiser Lindsey Richards said: “We are immensely grateful to Brandon and everyone who has been involved in these fundraising activities.

“It has been heartwarming to see so many people coming together to support him and remember Melissa. Their involvement and the huge amount of money raised is testament to how loved she was, and how well thought of Brandon is by everyone who knows him.”

Brandon Burke (sixth from the right) is pictured with St John’s Hospice Fundraiser Tracey Gaughan (centre), with friends and family who have supported his fundraising in memory of his fiancée Melissa Mountford.

Melissa Mountford