From education to employment

Luke gets huge boost from fellow apprentices – and they’ve never even met!

Apollo Motor Group apprentice, Luke Hope, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) last year, has been sent a special delivery from his fellow apprentices at training provider, Remit Group.

The 18-year-old from Swindon, started his automotive Parts apprenticeship in July 2018. Just two months later, Luke was diagnosed with ALL and his apprenticeship and training had to be put on hold, while he started immediate and intensive treatment.

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Adults and children can get it, but it is most often diagnosed in young people. It is treated with chemotherapy and sometimes stem cell treatment, and patients often rely on bone marrow, blood and stem cell donors.

Luke was so early into his apprenticeship with Apollo when he was diagnosed, that he hadn’t yet had the chance to visit the Remit national Automotive Academy in Derby, where his block release training would take place. But that didn’t stop Remit from making sure he was being thought of.

Apprentices attending the Academy are expected to dress in smart work clothes, throughout their block week, with the exception of a ‘dress down Friday’, where learners are given the opportunity to make a charitable donation in exchange for wearing their casual clothes. At the end of each quarter, staff at the Academy count up the money raised, and agree on a charity or local cause to donate to.

When it came to the end of the last quarter in 2018, there was no question in the apprentices’ eyes as to where they wanted their money to go, after being told about Luke’s story.

Mick Pilling, Automotive Development Director for Remit Group, said: “Even though Luke hadn’t been able to join us yet, we were very sorry to hear about his illness, and had been told by Apollo what a fantastic lad he is. We shared his story with our apprentices, who were very humbled and sorry to hear someone of their age was going through such a difficult time. We all wanted to do something to help.

“So when it came to deciding on a good cause to donate our collection to at the end of the year, there was no question in the minds of our apprentices – it should go to Luke.”

In the final quarter of the year, the Academy apprentices had raised £400, which was converted into shopping vouchers.

Mick was joined by Luke’s Apprentice Development Coach, Jim Swann, at Apollo Swindon to meet Luke and his father, Paul. They were able to present the vouchers to Luke along with a range of cards and messages from fellow apprentices Luke had never met, to offer everyone’s thoughts and best wishes.

Luke’s father, Paul, was overwhelmed with the gesture. He said: “We’re so grateful for what Remit has done for us. Luke didn’t know any of the young people who have donated to help him, at a time when he’s unable to work and earn money for himself. It’s so thoughtful, and the whole family truly appreciate the support.

“All we can do now, is do as much as we can to support Luke, and help him fight this terrible disease. We also want to highlight the symptoms of ALL, and encourage anyone who is concerned to go and see a doctor, as early diagnosis is vital.

“Luke’s symptoms were acute and sudden. They included being very lethargic and having unexplained leg pain, followed by what looked like a rash – this was in fact blood vessels bleeding at their ends, causing pin pricks. Treatment for ALL also wouldn’t be possible without the kindness of strangers who donate blood, bone marrow and stem cells. Without them, Luke would already have lost his battle.”

Paul Clements of Apollo Group said: “Luke is already a big part of our Apollo family and we were all devastated when we first heard the news of his diagnosis. Andy, site manager and the rest of the Swindon team are in regular contact with Luke and his family on his progression and we mentioned this to Remit at our last Apollo review meeting.

“We were overwhelmed when Remit came back to us with the idea to support Luke through this very difficult stage of his treatment and demonstrates true partnership.

Luke is an inspiration to us all with his courage and determination and we wish him a very speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing him back in work soon.”

Luke is currently undergoing chemotherapy and his treatment is ongoing.

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