It started with a troll tattoo inked strategically under his hairy armpit followed by a charity quiz at his local pub.
Now a year after publishing online his quirky wish-list of 46 things to do before he dies, Stephen Sutton, who has incurable cancer, is reflecting on 12 months of fun and fundraising.
He says: “It’s been an unimaginable year.”
Now the 19-year-old from Burntwood is celebrating the one-year anniversary of his list by announcing the fund now stands at more than £160,000.
In the last 12 months he has played the drums in front of 90,000 football fans at Wembley, surfed a festival crowd in a rubber dinghy, learnt to juggle, performed a couple of skydives, given a speech at the House of Commons and met his comedy hero Jimmy Carr.
But Number 1 on the list, and by far the most important to him, was to raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which has supported him and other young people fighting the disease.
The latest fundraising figure fills him with immense pride, and which makes him their top fundraiser on the Just Giving website. It all seems like a long time ago now but he thinks the fundraising started with a pub quiz at his local, The Wych Elm in Burntwood.
A lot has happened since, some of it not anticipated. He did not expect to enjoy the fundraising so much.
Looking back he said today: “The scale of it has been so incredible, it’s been unimaginable. I have benefitted personally from the kindness shown by the community out there, and knowing that people care.”
He has become something of a celebrity, with 12,500 ‘likes’ on Facebook, 16,000 followers on Twitter and a clutch of awards to his name. He is the regional winner of the vInspired National Awards, has won Kids Count charity’s Most Inspirational Young Person’s Award and his school, Chase Terrace Technology College, has named a trophy after him.
He has earned standing ovations as a motivational speaker, most recently as guest speaker at the Find Your Sense of Tumour event organised by the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“I’ve had a really good time in 2013 and there’s still a lot more to do,” he said.