Pride of Britain 2021: Meet the West Regional Fundraiser of the Year finalist Tom Saunders

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A man from Bath who runs a charity which offers free holidays to those affected by cancer has been shortlisted as one of this year's Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Award finalists.

Tom Saunders runs the Ben Saunders Foundation which was started by his son in the weeks before his death.

Alongside working a full-time job, he works to provide a holiday lodge in Cirencester for families to stay in free of charge.

The Ben Saunders Foundation's holiday lodge. Credit: ITV News

"We knew with three or four weeks to go that the chances of him getting better were not great," Tom explained.

"So it was his idea to set the foundation up to provide holidays for teenagers around his age plus young adults with an opportunity to stay with their friends or their families to get away and so far it's been a wonderful success."

Ben was only 18-years-old when he died. Credit: ITV News

Ben was a Bath FC academy player and was just 18 years old when he died after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer sarcoma attached to his heart. 

So far 20 families have stayed at the holiday lodge, including his friends Verity and Chrissy - who he met on the teenage cancer unit at the BRI.

Verity said: "I think it's a place where you can really just take time for yourself and not have to worry about anyone else.

"It isn't just the patient, it's the family as well - so having a place where it's just not us, it's family, and you can have that quality time together really helps rebuild whatever has been broken by the cancer."

Tom's friends Verity and Chrissy are among those who have benefited from stays at the lodge. Credit: ITV News

Chrissy added: "There are no reminders of treatment or cancer there's nothing being shoved in your face here so you can just forget it all and breathe for the first time in years it feels like."

Ben's mother Jo heaped praise on his father explaining how devoted her husband is to the foundation.

She said: "He spends all his spare time organising events and trying to raise money, contacting people for sponsors and to keep the profile going.

"He just spends every spare moment and devotes all of his time to it. And it's helping so many families. I think he's just so deserving to be recognised for all his hard work and for Ben as well."

Tom is now working towards buying another lodge with his aim to be able to help as many families as possible moving forward.