A mother has paid tribute to her ‘awe inspiring’ 24-year-old son who had planned a future travelling the world as an aerospace engineer.
Ben Bland died at his home in the early hours of Monday last week (April 28), after losing his battle to cancer.
Ben was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in November 2012. He had a bone marrow transplant that year and recovered in isolation at Royal Marsden Hospital. But he relapsed in January.
Ben leaves his father Richard, brothers Matthew, 22, and Daniel, 20, and girlfriend of five years Charlotte Taylor - who he planned to propose to this summer.
His mother Catherine said he had his dream career lined up after completing a degree in aerospace engineering and being offered a job where he would be travelling the world as an aerospace engineer.
She said: “It really is not fair. He had big plans. He wanted to travel the world. He had gone straight from studying, to university, to cancer.
“We will remember him as a bubbly, active, selfless man and so family orientated. He was just amazing.
“I was so proud. He’s been so courageous and so brave and very gracious about it. Cancer is a horrible thing but he just got on with it.”
He went to his graduation two days after he found out he had relapsed.
Catherine said: “We were told there was absolutely nothing else they could do. He didn’t want any of his friends to know. He had done 15 months in hospital and he just wanted to be normal for a day.”
Ben, from Worth, had begun a Masters at university but he had to stop when he was diagnosed.
Catherine said Ben always looked for ways to help others. He gave speeches to fund raisers for the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit to give them encouragement and he mentored the young newly diagnosed patients.
She said: “Ben sat with them and talked them through what they were going to go through and assured them it was going to be OK.
“He wasn’t feeling well but he really did try to help as many people as he could. He was just a genuinely nice person.”
Ben also hosted the Youth Achievement Awards for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
He was a passionate mountain biker and sportsman. He was a member of the Crawley Hockey Club for 13 years. Catherine said she had received hundred of letters from his friends describing Ben as ‘awe inspiring’, ‘a gentleman’ and a ‘true friend’.
She said: “He was one of life’s go-getters and always the optimist.
“He always believed something would turn up. Something would help him.”
He was the head chorister at St Nicholas Church in Worth from the age of nine to 15 - when his voice broke.
Catherine said: “He didn’t mind having to stop because it meant he could play more rugby.
“He had a lovely voice. He sang at weddings.”
Ben’s youngest brother Dan will take on a 100km run in June to raise money for CLIC Sargent, a charity for children with cancer.
Catherine said the charity got Ben front row seat tickets to the six nations rugby final but he was too ill to go.
Ben’s family will also take on a cycle from the London Eye to Hove, in June.
A service of remembrance will be held on Thursday May 8 at St Nicholas Church ,Worth, at 2pm followed by a cremation at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium.
Visit Dan’s fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/Daniel-Bland1 or the family’s page at: www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/bens-no-1-crew-for-C2C