A DETERMINED young man raised thousands of pounds for charity before he lost his battle to cancer.

Neil Vines, 22, from Nupend near Stonehouse, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on April 20 after battling a form of brain cancer for nearly three years.

During chemotherapy he set himself a number of gruelling physical challenges to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, generating a total of £5,500.

Neil's story is captured in his memoir, Powerful Beyond Measure, which was published just days before he passed away.

His sister Sarah Vines said: "Neil’s ambitious and motivated character is portrayed in his memoir, his aspiration being that the personal account of his cancer journey would bring strength to not only those suffering with cancer but also for those that find themselves in a tough situation.

"One of his messages throughout his fight was that cancer might hit you hard but, through sheer determination, you can fight back harder.

"He was an inspiration to us all, and we are so proud of him. His unbelievable strength and optimism has made me look at life in a new way.”

Neil had four brothers and two sisters and attended Hempsted Primary School and Severn Vale School in Gloucester.

A talented and keen sportsman, Neil was a member of Gloucester Rowing Club for six years and worked as a personal trainer.

At the age of 19 he moved to the Greek island of Crete to work as a children’s sports coordinator.

But after suffering severe headaches and neck and shoulder pain he was flown back to the UK after just two months and in August 2012 was diagnosed with medulloblastoma.

He fought tirelessly for eight months, undergoing surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, before being given the all clear in April 2013.

In the months that followed, Neil taught himself to walk, cycle and even run again. But less than seven months later he received the news that a second tumour had formed in his brain stem.

The once super-fit teenager’s body changed dramatically following surgery on Christmas Eve 2013 and six more months of chemotherapy.

He lost his ability to walk and his speech and sight also deteriorated.

Not wanting to give up, Neil vowed to raise money for other people in his position.

His first challenge was to cycle the 600 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a static bike (pictured).

As Neil said in his memoir: “I wanted to help others in my job and now that I had cancer, why should I stop?

“I wanted to be there for people who were struggling like I had been and to offer a sense of normality for them. I wanted people to hear that you don’t have to sit and cry, you can get up and do something and help others.”

He went on to complete the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the equivalent of Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike on a stepper, and then almost all of the equivalent of Mount Everest.

“Neil always loved helping people, both in and out of work" added Sarah. "Even whilst undergoing debilitating chemotherapy he was fundraising to help others that were also going through treatment for cancer”.

Neil’s mother Judith said: “Neil was taken too soon and has left me heartbroken, but he will be loved and remembered always and will be forever in my heart.”

Neil’s family have launched a website in his memory and are setting up a charity in his name, which will provide weekend trips for people with cancer and their families.

See neilvines.com for more details.

Click here for the SNJ's editorial comment on Neil's inspirational story.