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Gift of life for Lucy

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Schoolgirl Lucy Clasper is living proof that bone marrow donors save lives.

Schoolgirl Lucy Clasper is living proof that bone marrow donors save lives.

The sixth-former battled leukaemia from the age of 11 to 16, enduring years of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

But two years ago she was matched to a donor on the Anthony Nolan Trust's bone marrow register and went through the operation to which she now owes her life.

Now Lucy is about to complete her A-levels and go on to university - after encouraging her family to take part in a daredevil stunt to encourage more people to become potential donors.

The 18-year-old, along with father Brian, brother David and sister Amy, are being sponsored to zip slide off the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle at speeds of up to 30mph on a 400ft wire down to HMS Calliope on the Gateshead Quays to say thank you to the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Speaking yesterday from her home in Queens Drive, Sedgefield, County Durham, exactly two years since her operation, Lucy urged readers to sign up to the trust's bone marrow register as part of our Join for Josie Appeal - and become potential lifesavers.

Our campaign, in memory of 16-year-old Josie Grove, who gave up her leukaemia treatment after two failed bone marrow transplants to spend her remaining months with her family, has recruited dozens of donors since Josie's death last month.

And Lucy, who spent time on the same hospital ward as Josie, said: "It's so simple to become a donor and it's much more important than people think."

Lucy, a student at the Queen Elizabeth College in Darlington, missed two years of school because of her illness, but has caught up and has been offered university places to study psychology. She will be joined in the charity event by sales manager David, 24, student Amy, 22, and father Brian, 51, while mother Christine, 51, will be on hand to take photographs of the big day. Brian, an NHS dentist, spoke of his family's debt to the Anthony Nolan Trust and how their lives have been transformed by Lucy's operation.

She had chemotherapy for more than two years before apparently beating the disease. But 18 months later, just as her life was returning to normal, the leukaemia returned.

Brian said the family can now go to watch Sunderland again at the Stadium of Light, and has been on adventure holidays to India and South Africa since the operation.

He said: "If it wasn't for the Anthony Nolan Trust, we wouldn't have Lucy. Our donor was a guy from London. We don't know who he is but he has given my daughter a life. She's probably going to university in September and is having a perfectly normal life now.

"Over the last six years we've had a relatively quiet time and this has just opened our eyes to life now. We're just going for it."

Also taking part in the event is Josie Grove's father Cliff, whose inspirational daughter was two years younger than Lucy. Brian said: "We think about them every day."

It costs £70 for the Anthony Nolan Trust to sign up each person on the register, and the charity is hoping to raise thousands from the three-day zip slide on the Bank Holiday weekend of May 5, 6 and 7.

Up to 400 participants can take part and if all the places are filled, it would raise enough money to register 800 people as bone marrow donors.

Anyone who would like to take part should ring (01388) 529430 or email peter.finnigan@anthonynolan.org.uk

Jane to release a song for Josie

A songwriter who performed at Josie Grove's funeral after a chance meeting with her father is to release a charity single to raise money for other young people with leukaemia.

Jane Armstrong, 31, of Beverly Terrace, Cullercoats, was busking on Gateshead Quayside last year when she was approached by the teenager's father, Cliff Grove.

Jewellery designer Cliff, of Princes Street, Corbridge, Northumberland, was out walking while Josie and her mum Jacqui were taking a boat trip along the Tyne and was so moved by Jane's singing he asked her to keep in touch.

When Josie tragically died three weeks ago after a two-year battle with leukaemia, Cliff decided to ring Jane and asked her if she would like to perform at a celebration into his daughter's inspirational life. Now Jane is hoping to release the song she performed on the day as a single to raise money for Josie's leukaemia fund.

Jane, who has been a singer-songwriter for 15 years, said: "I was absolutely honoured to perform at the celebration into Josie's life. She was an incredible young woman and did so much for other people.

"Both Cliff and Jacqui have displayed such strength and dignity through everything they have gone through."

Jane has written a song inspired by Josie called Dragonflies, which she hopes to release as a CD single to raise money for other young cancer victims.

Cliff added: "When I first met Jane, I was so moved by how beautiful her voice was I just had to introduce myself. We kept in touch and I was so pleased she was able to perform at the celebration in Josie's life."

Join register and become a lifesaver

The Journal is urging readers to join the bone marrow register and become a potential lifesaver for a youngster like Josie Grove.

You only need to give a teaspoon of blood to join the register. If you become a match for one of the 7,000 people who need a transplant, the procedure is as simple as giving blood.

Donors' identities are kept anonymous, but please remember to mention The Journal's Josie Grove Appeal when asked how you found out about the number so we can record how many people are signing up in her name.

Our drive for donors is another strand of the Josie Grove Appeal, which has so far raised more than £20,000 for leukaemia research.

Donors must be 18-40 and weigh more than 8st/51kg.

A special email address has been set up on the Anthony Nolan Trust's bone marrow register in Josie's memory - josie@ anthonynolan.org.uk

The donor hotline is 0901 882-2234.

 

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