WHEN apprentices found out one of their colleagues had cancer, they knew they wanted to help.

So they decided to hold dress-down Friday every week during their course.

And now they've handed the £400 they raised to Swindon teenager Luke Hope.

Luke began intensive treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia two months into an automotive parts apprenticeship.

Though the other Apollo Motor Group apprentices at the Remit Group’s national automotive academy had never met the 18-year-old, they sent cards and messages wishing him well.

Luke’s father Paul was overwhelmed with the gesture.

He said: “We’re so grateful for what Remit has done for us. Luke didn’t know any of the young people who have donated to help him at a time when he’s unable to work and earn money for himself. It’s so thoughtful and the whole family truly appreciate the support.

“All we can do now is do as much as we can to support Luke and help him fight this terrible disease. We also want to highlight the symptoms of ALL and encourage anyone who is concerned to go and see a doctor, as early diagnosis is vital.

“Luke’s symptoms were acute and sudden. They included being very lethargic and having unexplained leg pain, followed by what looked like a rash - this was in fact blood vessels bleeding at their ends, causing pin pricks.

“Treatment wouldn’t be possible without the kindness of strangers who donate blood, bone marrow and stem cells. Without them, Luke would already have lost his battle.”

Remit Group’s automotive development director Mick Pilling and apprentice development coach Jim Swann met Luke and his father Paul at Apollo Swindon to present the youngster with the fundraised £400, which was converted into shopping vouchers, and the cards and messages.

Mick Pilling, automotive development director for Remit Group, said: “Even though Luke hadn’t been able to join us yet, we were very sorry to hear about his illness, and had been told by Apollo what a fantastic lad he is. We shared his story with our apprentices, who were very humbled and sorry to hear someone of their age was going through such a difficult time. We all wanted to do something to help.

“So when it came to deciding on a good cause to donate our collection to at the end of the year, there was no question in the minds of our apprentices – it should go to Luke.”

Paul Clements of Apollo Group said: “Luke is already a big part of our Apollo family and we were all devastated when we first heard the news of his diagnosis.

"Andy, our site manager, and the rest of the Swindon team are in regular contact with Luke and his family on his progression and we mentioned this to Remit at our last Apollo review meeting.

“We were overwhelmed when Remit came back to us with the idea to support Luke through this very difficult stage of his treatment and demonstrates true partnership.

“Luke is an inspiration to us all with his courage and determination and we wish him a very speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing him back in work soon.”

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Adults and children can get it, but it is most often diagnosed in young people. It is treated with chemotherapy and sometimes stem cell treatment, and patients often rely on bone marrow, blood and stem cell donors.