A brave young farmer and talented rugby player has vowed to beat an inoperable brain tumour that could kill him within months.
Doctors have told Stu Ridley, 25, he has about six months to live after being diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer.
A couple of months ago, Mr Ridley was making his first team debut for Tynedale Rugby Club in Northumberland, one of the most historic rugby teams in the North.
But just a few weeks later, he is facing his biggest battle yet – the fight to stay alive.
After months of complaining of persistent headaches, during a night out last month with friends and a few beers, Mr Ridley started to feel unwell.
Hospital tests on 13 February confirmed the devastating news that he had a brain tumour in an area where surgeons are unable to operate.
The results of a biopsy revealed the tumour had spread to a couple of other spots, including the surface of his brain.
But despite the gloomy outlook, Mr Ridley has vowed to get back on to the rugby pitch and continue scoring tries.
He has started six months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try and slow the aggressive tumour.
Both the farming and rugby communities have rallied in support of Mr Ridley, a regular winner with Bluefaced Leicesters and Mules at local agricultural shows, with his father Melvin, mother Celia and brothers Kevin and Stephen.
He has received personal messages of support from the England rugby team and coach Stuart Lancaster. Dozens of top rugby players have offered their support, including top-flight Premiership players and Jonny Wilkinson.
The England rugby great and former Newcastle Falcons player sent Mr Ridley a direct message via Twitter, saying: “Heard about your situation, mate. I know you will beat this. Soon you’ll be back on the field doing what you do best. 100% with you!”
A “Stay Strong Stu” campaign has been set up on Facebook and it has attracted more than 13,000 followers from across the world.
“I’ve been given roughly six months but everyone is different and I’m far from beaten yet!” said Mr Ridley, a farmer’s son from Shitlington Hall, near Wark, writing on Facebook.
“Thanks again for all the support that’s been given. It’s unbelievable and really does mean the world to myself and my family!
“Sorry to drop this on you people but people need to know what’s happening! Hope to see you all soon and take care, much love x.”
T-shirts and writstbands, which carry the “Stay Strong Stu” slogan have also been produced to raise money for Mr Ridley’s two chosen charities, the Brain Tumour Charity and the Wooden Spoon Rugby Charity.
And friends have started a #TUMOURHUMOUR campaign which involves destroying an orange and donating £5 to charity.
The Stay Strong Stu appeal aims to raise more than £100,000 to raise awareness of brain tumours, empower communities to help fight such illnesses – while also providing practical support for Mr Ridley.
His mum Celia said she was proud of the way her son was battling his illness.
He’s always positive,” she told The Daily Mirror. “If he catches me crying he’ll say ‘no tears man, mother’ and he makes me smile again.
“He’s tackling this with so much humour and positivity in a way only Stu can. He’s an inspiration to his family and we’re all so very proud of him.”
Read the latest news on Mr Ridley’s cancer battle on his Stay Strong Stu Facebook page.
For further information, contact Andrew Burns, Appeal Co-ordinator, Burns68@gmail.com or 07967 606 278.