SADNESS swept across The Observer newsroom this week as the news many of us had been dreading broke – our great friend and former colleague Matt ‘Batesy’ Bates had passed away following his valiant, brave and always hopeful two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.
But the former Coventry Observer deputy editor has left a legacy in song – the release this week of his album ‘Fightback’ which chronicles his valiant battle with the illness since his diagnosis in 2014.
Matt, who began his promising career with The Observer before a brief spell with the Stratford Herald, never gave up his fight against the disease, but sadly passed away in Myton Hospice on Friday afternoon (October 28).
But the 27-year-old, who married his long-time girlfriend Gemma the day before he died, said he hoped the 13-track album would prove a lasting legacy and have a positive impact on those who heard it.
Speaking in the days before his passing, Matt, from Whitnash, said: “Having the album come out now is such a brilliant thing for me and my family.
“I know I won’t be around forever but my music will be and that means a lot.
“It leaves something behind for my family to cherish too which is great.
“I’ve been determined to love life and live positively since my diagnosis and I hope that comes across in Fightback.
“These obviously aren’t the circumstances in which I wanted to release the album but if it can give people a smile and a lift in life then that’s good enough for me.”
Matt, who recorded the album in his Dad’s studio, had been playing guitar for over ten years but only discovered his talent for songwriting after his diagnosis. He even featured as part of a songwriting workshop on BBC Radio Four earlier this year.
Artistic talent runs through the Bates household – sister Sarah is an artist, and mum and dad Louise and Bill have been playing music in folk bands for many years.
Dad Bill said: “I’m very proud of him. The songs on the album meant a lot to him. It documents his experience and his songwriting brings out what he had been going through.”
Throughout his treatment, Matt documented his experiences in an open and honest personal online blog, keeping family and friends up-to-date with his journey.
After he was diagnosed, Matt, alongside his family and friends, worked tirelessly to raise money for his treatment – a drive which brought the whole community together.
‘Fightback’ can be downloaded on iTunes and Amazon, and is also streaming on Spotify. An initial 100 physical copies were also released this week.
Visit www.matt-bates.co.uk to find out more about Matt’s journey, the album and his inspirational, heartfelt blogs.
“Matt or ‘Batesy’ as he was known to us was one of the finest journalists we have had the pleasure of working with – and an even better friend.
“His legacy as a journalist, musician and most importantly as a person will remain with us for the rest of our lives.
“His extraordinary battle against cancer is one that will inspire those who knew him and those who didn’t.
“We urge everyone to get a copy of his album and help share the music of our amazing friend who we will dearly miss.”
Billy, Carpo and Smudgie