Terminally ill father passes away after hundreds threw him early Christmas party

A terminally ill father-of-three who went viral after hundreds of people threw him an early Christmas party outside his home has died, his family has revealed.

Matthew Sandbrook, 37, was given just months to live in October 2021 after being diagnosed with aggressive glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

Doctors said he was unlikely to survive to see Christmas so his determined family launched an online appeal to throw him a final festive bash.

They were amazed when more than 200 people, including family, friends, neighbours and strangers, duly turned up outside his home in Warndon, Worcestershire, on 6 October last year to wish him well.

Matthew went on to see last Christmas with his family but sadly passed away just over a year after his surprise party on Friday 18 November.

A Facebook post from his family read: “With a broken heart I must inform you all of the passing of Matthew Sandbrook.

“The world lost a very precious kind loving funny hard-working family man taken from us too soon he will be sadly missed and always in our hearts.

“He was so brave fighting this glioblastoma brain cancer for such a long time.

“Thank you for all your support over the last 14 months helping create precious time and memories together.”

Footage of Matthew opening his front door to be greeted with cheers from a 200 strong crowd was viewed thousands of times online at the time of his festive party.

Well-wishers donned Christmas jumpers and sang carols and festive hits while volunteers even arranged for a fake snow machine and DJ to perform.

Crowds sang Ben E King’s “Stand By Me” as Matthew, his wife Rebecca and their three sons Connor, Kyle and Tyler came out of the house.

Matthew Sandbrook’s early Christmas party in October 2021 (SWNS)
Matthew Sandbrook’s early Christmas party in October 2021 (SWNS)

Matthew said at the time: “I’m on cloud nine with what’s happened today.

“You spend years and years thinking you’re on your own and all this happens in such a short space of time. I’m totally blown away.”

Matthew, a factory supervisor, had been suffering headaches for two years before doctors found the tennis ball-sized tumour.

After a series of tests he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a malign cancer spreading through his brain and spinal cord.

He added: “I work night shifts and just thought the headaches were stress so I just popped paracetamol and carried on.

“I want to tell people that if they are suffering from headaches to get themselves checked out.”

The early Christmas party was arranged by Matthew’s cousin Nikki Lee.

Hundreds of people gathered to wish Matthew Sandbrook a happy early Christmas last autumn (SWNS)
Hundreds of people gathered to wish Matthew Sandbrook a happy early Christmas last autumn (SWNS)

She said previously: “He loves Christmas and when we found out he would probably not make it this year, we thought we’d just have to bring Christmas forward.

“It was an amazing, emotional, heartwarming night which gives you such faith in humanity.

“There were so many people there, some who didn’t even know Matty but had read about his story on Facebook and wanted to show their support.”

Matthew’s funeral will be held at Worcester Crematorium at 2.15pm on Friday 9 December, with a wake taking place at the New Chequers pub.

Anyone wishing to attend is asked to meet by the entrance to the crematorium, where friends and family will walk behind the car, which will again be playing “Stand By Me” in tribute.

Matthew’s wife Rebecca has asked that, instead of bringing flowers, people contribute to donation boxes for St Richard’s Hospice.

She said: “I would like to thank all of the staff, doctors, nurses and volunteer workers at St Richard’s Hospice for the care they gave Matthew and myself over the last month.”

This article was amended on November 24 2022 to remove an inaccurate reference to glioblastoma being a rare form of brain cancer. It is the most common form of brain cancer in adults.