Former England and Surrey cricketer John Edrich MBE - who lives in Ballater - is organising a fundraising golf day this autumn to raise funds for the cancer charity he credits with helping him overcome leukaemia.
The 74-year-old, played a total of 77 test matches for England between 1963 and 1976 where highlights included winning an Ashes series in Australia and scoring 310 not out against New Zealand at Headingley.
John was diagnosed with Waldenström’s Leukaemia in 1999 and was given a maximum of seven years to live by doctors.
As a cricketer John had a reputation as a dogged and fearless batsman. He explained how he met the challenge from cancer with similar determination.
“When I was given the news that I only had seven years to live it was difficult to take in but it was probably harder for my family,” John said.
“I remember thinking about how fortunate I had been in life - cricket gave me the opportunity to meet some great people over the years and allowed me to travel all over the world.
“After five years of chemotherapy, which was extremely debilitating, I was advised to consult Dr Stefan Geider at Camphill Wellbeing Trust in Aberdeen.
“They specialise in mistletoe therapy as an integrative approach for patients with cancer. I was at my lowest point and didn’t know much about alternative medicine but I was impressed with Dr Geider’s confidence. I started with mistletoe therapy in 2005 and have continued with it for the past six years. I remain in good health and fully enjoy life.”
John said he is really appreciating the extra years the treatment has given him and added that some of his friends have also used mistletoe therapy.
“Many other people are also benefiting from this therapy and it is my wish that mistletoe therapy should be available for as many people as possible.
“Mistletoe for Cancer UK is an initiative of Camphill Wellbeing Trust, a registered charity. It needs funding to provide information and support for patients, develop service availability and fund research trials.”
Mistletoe (Viscum Album) is the most predominantly used complementary therapy in cancer care in Europe and is used in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. Mistletoe therapy was developed in 1917 and is said to improve and strengthen the natural defenses of the body through a supportive effect on the immune system, it has also been shown to ease the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
John bought a house in Ballater after falling in love with the Deeside village while on a charity walk in the area and is a member at Ballater Golf Club but still spends a lot of his time in England.
John’s first Mistletoe for Cancer UK Golf Day will take place on Wednesday, September 28 on the Longcross Course at Foxhills Golf Club, Ottershaw in Surrey.
A number of celebrities will be joining the teams of four players and proceeds from the event will go to Mistletoe for Cancer UK.
The day will also include a ‘Beat the Pro’ competition, competitions for longest drive, nearest the pin and putting.
The fundraising event will be rounded off with a dinner in the evening. There are also opportunities for people to attend the event as spectators.
Commenting on the fundraising event, Dr Stefan Geider of Camphill Wellbeing Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful to John Edrich for his initiative in setting up this Mistletoe for Cancer UK Golf Day to raise funds.
“It is tremendous that someone like him, who is so well known in sporting circles, is able to use that status to help us to achieve our fundraising goals.
“We have set ourselves the target to raise £100,000 by next year. This will fund a medical trial on mistletoe therapy, carried out by Aberdeen University, which will complement another already underway in Bristol University.
“We believe that these trials could have a significant impact on the availability and acceptability of mistletoe treatment for cancer, here in the UK.”
During his career John faced many great cricketers and found it difficult to choose his most difficult opponent.
He said: “There were a lot of excellent players but among the toughest bowlers I faced were the Australian pair of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, they were incredibly quick and I always knew I had to be at my best when I faced those two.
There was also the great West Indies team of that era who made the game of cricket look so easy.”
John, who was voted as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1966, is still a huge fan of the sport and regularly attends Test matches in England.
“I was down at Lord’s for the first test against India when Kevin Pietersen played superbly for his double century and I will be heading down to my old ground, the Oval, for the fourth test on August 18.”
“England are doing very well at the moment and the team appears to have a good spirit.
I think the coach, Andy Flower, and captain, Andrew Strauss, have done well.
“They have so much confidence, and that will have come from beating Australia over there because that is the pinnacle of any English cricketer’s career.
They are making India look like a second rate side at the moment.”
Entries for the Mistletoe for Cancer UK Golf Day, cost £750 for a team of four and £185 for individuals.
Entries should be submitted to Alan Green at ARGevents telephone 07540 812895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mistletoe for Cancer UK website is at www.mistletoeforcancer.org.uk and entries for the Mistletoe for Cancer UK Golf Day can be submitted online.