Feel Good

Employees Give Up Christmas Gifts To Help Sick Co-Worker

They say it’s better to give than to receive. Workers at an automotive manufacturer in Peterlee, England are following that mantra by giving up their company Christmas gifts so they can help one of their co-workers who’s sick with a rare form of cancer.

Over a year ago, 31-year old father of two Liam Debbage, who works at ZF Peterlee, was diagnosed with Clear Cell Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects just 200 people worldwide. Doctors told him that there was no treatment available, essentially giving Debbage a death sentence.

However, Debbage and his family were given a glimmer of hope when they learned of a drug called Pembrolizumab that had promising results during clinical trials conducted in the U.S. The catch was that such treatment would need to be privately funded because not enough people in England had that type of cancer to conduct clinical trials.

Debbage and his family set out to raise £30,000 (roughly $40,000) on JustGiving so they could afford the treatment. They managed to get halfway to their goal when Debbage’s company stepped up and decided to donate the rest.


ZF Peterlee decided to take £16,000 (over $21,000) that would have been spent on holiday gifts for employees and decided to put it toward Debbage’s treatment instead. The upper level bosses at the company have pledged an additional £1,500 to exceed the family’s original goal of £30,000.

“Liam is such a popular member of the ZF team,” said Lisa Walton, HR manager at ZF Peterlee. “Everyone wanted to do whatever they could to help, and sacrificing their Christmas gift from the company seemed like a small price to pay to ensure their colleague gets this potentially life-saving treatment.”

With the money raised, Debbage is set to begin treatments within the next couple of weeks, providing hope for him and his family just in time for the holiday season.

“I cannot put into words what this means to me. When they rang me to tell me the news, I broke down,” Debbage said. “Thank you to everyone at ZF Peterlee for making this possible.”