Matt’s Fund – The Family Who Have Been Helping To Fund Research Into Malignant Melanoma For 14 Years

Matthew Boulton, from Welton, was 24 years old when he died in March 2008 after a 4 year battle with Malignant Melanoma, the most serious strain of skin cancer.

Matt attended William Farr School through 6th form, moving onto Lincoln Art College and subsequently Manchester Metropolitan University where he studied Art & Graphic Design.  He was working for a design agency in Newark when he died. 

In his final year of University, Matt noticed that a mole on his leg had changed colour, it was removed and found to be Malignant. After 18 months clear, it was found that Matt had a series of secondary tumourswhich were operated on successfully. He had a further two metastases diagnosed on the brain in February ’08 and was due into Sheffield for a new treatment, Stereotactic Radiotherapy, complications took him into Lincoln Hospital shortlybefore he was due to go to Sheffield, sadly he died the day the procedure was to have taken place.

After his January operation at Nottingham Queens Hospital, he was adamant he would raise funds for research into Malignant Melanoma. Sadly, he was not able to realise this ambition, so wanting to carry out his wish, family and friends created Matt’s Fund. 

Matt’s father, Bob Boulton, was one of the family members to carry forward his wish. “In that final period, Matt was trying to initiate a fundraising system whereby he could put something back into the health service because it had been so supportive of him over that period of time” Bob explains, “He and some of his friends were trying to get things organised but sadly he passed before he got anything off the ground so we, as a family, said ok that was his intention – we are going to carry on and do something and so Matt’s Fund was formed.”

Matt’s Fund is a charitable association, raising funds for research into Malignant Melanoma and skin cancer with 2 main aims:

  • To raise awareness of Melanoma and its impact
  • To raise money for research into the disease
Matt’s Fund Logo

The fund’s logo was produced initially as a ‘get well’ card for Matt during a spell in Nottingham City Hospital. It was created by a colleague at the graphic design agency and represents Matt driving his Renault; the shading on his arms representing his full sleeve tattoos which he’d designed himself.

Since its beginnings 14 years ago, the fund has raised over £200,000, an astonishing amount which has helped to fund research into the disease as well as pay for equipment which is used during treatments and to allow early diagnosis.

Funds are mostly channelled through Nottingham University Hospitals Cancer Charity, direct to their Laboratory of Molecular Oncology at City Hospital in Nottingham to fund research. Headed up by Professor Patel, the most advanced cases of Melanoma from Lincolnshire are referred to the expertise of this clinic. Their work is focussed on immunotherapy and targeted treatments. “Professor Patel is a great guy” says Bob,“Matt had a lot of respect and a lot of faith in him. He was quite clear when we were referred that there is no cure, but he will keep Matt going for as long as he possibly can and was quite open about that. I think that gave Matt a lot of confidence in him because he wasn’t disguising it.” 

As well as funding research, throughout the years Matt’s Fund have also had the aim to maximise publicity to raise awareness of Malignant Melanoma – one of the deadliest cancers with limited treatments available. The number of cases diagnosed in the UK is over 10,000 a year and rising, of these over 2000 people currently die; but if caught early enough it can be treated. 

Bob and his family have presented to schools, colleges and groups such as Rotary throughout the years on the topic of sun awareness, skin cancer and Melanoma. With the arrival of Spring and Summer just around the corner, we need to be aware of our skin and take precautions against sunburn, in particular encouraging the younger generations to take care of their skin as more young people aged between 15-30 die through Melanoma than any other cancer. This mutation of the body’s cells doesn’t happen overnight – it happens over a period of time, meaning we need to protect our skin to also protect our future. A tan looks healthy, but a sunburn is sore, uncomfortable and may cause significant and lasting damage to the skin, possibly initiating cancer.

No matter what skin type you have, check your skin thoroughly for signs of change – skin cancer does not discriminate. It is a common misconception that people with darker skin types are immune to sun damage and skin cancer; this is not true. Bob Marley had Melanoma under his big toenail but refused treatment on religious grounds. He died at the age of 36, proving that skin colour is no barrier to Melanoma. 

There is also a common misconception that you must be an avid sunbather to be at risk, this is also false. “The thing is, Matt wasn’t a sunbather” explains Bob,“He wouldn’t go out and sit in the sun or anything like that, if anything he’d be inside on the computer doing some artwork, not outside! But it doesn’t take a lot – one instance of sunburn could initiate the mutation.”

Prevention is best, UV from the sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3.00pm so use sun cream, wear a hat, find shade and be sun savvy. It costs nothing to check yourself and takes only a few minutes – if you have a mole that has recently appeared or has changed in any way, please get it checked out; some moles are dangerous. If you would like to make a donation or get involved, you can email matts-fund@live.co.uk or you visit their Facebook Group Matt’s Fund – Helping To Fund Research Into Malignant Melanoma.