How I assembled the Avengers: Daughter of cancer patient Stratford Caldecott explains how Hollywood’s biggest stars came together to grant a dying grandfather’s wish

Marvel to give 60-year-old fan exclusive advance screening of new Avengers DVD following worldwide support for #CapForStrat campaign

A grandfather dying from prostate cancer has had his final wish granted by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, after his daughter persuaded actors from Marvel’s Avengers films to support his cause on social media.

A huge fan of comic books from an early age, Stratford Caldecott, 60, was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011 and became too ill to see the latest Avengers film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in the cinema.

The DVD release is not until August, and doctors feared that Mr Caldecott would not be around to see it. That was until his daughter, Sophie, intervened.

Coining the Twitter hashtag #CapForStrat, Ms Caldecott encouraged stars on social media to post selfies in support of her father – and the response was overwhelming.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, she said: “Mark Ruffalo (who plays the Hulk) was the first, and seems to have been encouraging the others to join in. He told me his dad had prostate cancer too, so I guess that's why this resonated with him.”

Samuel L Jackson followed, and before long Mr Caldecott had the backing of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Captain America himself (Chris Evans).

Ms Caldecott said that eventually Christopher Markus, one of the writers who worked on the Avengers films, got in contact to say he might be able to help.

“They must have so many requests like this,” Ms Caldecott said. “So we were completely stunned that they got in touch and said that they had heard of our request.

“They are going to send someone round to his house with the film, I guess for security reasons, so dad can watch it in his bed – he can't really sit anymore, for long.”

The #CapForStrat campaign was also shared by ordinary fans around the world – but Ms Caldecott explained that they didn’t reveal it to her father until Marvel had got in touch.

“We didn't want to get his hopes up for nothing,” she said. “The first 'superhero for Strat selfie' we showed him was Mark Ruffalo's, and he was stunned - his first comment was 'this feels like a dream', and then 'Green is my new favourite colour!' (because of the Hulk, obviously).

Stratford Caldecott (left, wearing an 'arc reactor' from Iron Man) was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in October 2011 Stratford Caldecott (left, wearing an 'arc reactor' from Iron Man) was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in October 2011 “He doesn't like the limelight, but is so very touched. It means a lot to him that this isn't just about blessing his last days, but also about a wider campaign to raise awareness about prostate cancer.”

Ms Caldecott described the family’s anger when her father was diagnosed with an advanced stage of the cancer after almost a year of illness and extensive testing.

“In the US, men over a certain age are regularly checked for prostate cancer just as a matter of course, but it just didn't seem to be on the medical profession's radar here in the UK at all,” she said.

“Prostate cancer doesn't always show up in blood tests, so to be checked effectively for it you have to use other methods. That's the main thing we'd like to get across in terms of cancer awareness. We always thought doing a simple blood test would be enough.”

Mr Caldecott has experienced being a grandfather for just six months, after his daughter had her first baby in November.

Sophie Caldecott, who started the campaign for her father and said the family had been 'bowled over by all the messages of support' Sophie Caldecott, who started the campaign for her father and said the family had been 'bowled over by all the messages of support' Ms Caldecott said: “We all have down moments when it hits us anew that even all of this can't make dad's illness go away, or change the fact that we're losing him, but we're trying to put off thinking about that while we still have time left to celebrate him and enjoy this time together.”

She said that while the campaign initially started out as a way to make dealing with the cancer “bearable”, the significance of comic books went beyond just a simple distraction for her father.

“His whole life he has loved comic books and collected them as a child, and through his illness he has found great relief in the escapism of watching the Marvel films and TV series,” Ms Caldecott said.

“But it's kind of more than just escapism for him - he loves the comics so much because they are all about themes of hope, good fighting evil, and a greater good.

“That's why they have inspired him his whole life, and that's why it's so fitting that this world has become associated with the struggle that people have with cancer.”

For more information about how prostate cancer might affect you, visit prostatecanceruk.org

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss