Hundreds let rip to save lives

Whether it's the fastest way to cross the Tyne is debatable - but it's definitely the most spectacular.

Whether it's the fastest way to cross the Tyne is debatable - but it's definitely the most spectacular.

Hundreds of daredevil fundraisers took to the skies from the Tyne Bridge to HMS Calliope yesterday for a 400ft zip slide across the river for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

It was organised to encourage more people to sign up to the bone marrow donor register, has raised an estimated £31,000 for the charity - and there is another chance to have a go today.

Cliff Grove of Princes Street, Corbridge, Northumberland, the father of cancer campaigner Josie Grove, was among those taking the 30mph slide.

He said: "It was great fun and although it was a lot higher than I imagined I was reassured by the guys running the event who were very professional. I felt totally safe in their hands.

"Climbing over the edge of the bridge was definitely the hardest bit, but I was wearing a safety harness, so there was nothing to worry about really.

"They basically said `ready when you are' and I was surprised by how fast it was when I jumped off. I was really whizzing along and must have crossed the river in about 10 seconds."

Cliff's 16-year-old daughter Josie touched the hearts of the nation after choosing to forego further cancer treatment to spend time with her family and help others suffering from the disease. She died in February after a two-year battle with leukaemia, but not before inspiring thousands of people across the country to raise money for charity.

Cliff, a jewellery designer, said: "I cannot stress how important it is to raise money and awareness for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

"It's very close to our hearts and we're working closely with them on a number of things.

"There are about 60 million people living in the UK, but only 380,000 on the bone marrow register, so it is extremely important to recruit more donors.

"Every person on the register could really save someone's life. It's a pretty amazing thing to do."

Peter Finnigan of the Anthony Nolan Trust said: "It has been a great weekend so far and we expect to have another good day today.

"We raised about £31,000 over the first two days and hope to raise more money again today. But awareness is just as important as money and it has been fantastic to talk to hundreds and hundreds of people about what we do.

"It costs the charity £70 every time we sign someone up to the register, so no money means no donors, which in turn means no lives being saved. That's why raising money and awareness through events like this are so important."

Donor register saved our Lucy's life

Student Lucy Clasper was flying high yesterday.

Lucy, 18, is living proof that bone marrow donors save lives.

She battled leukaemia from the age of 11 to 16 and yesterday joined her family in a daredevil stunt for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Lucy, dad Brian, brother David and sister Amy, all did the 400ft zip slide from the Newcastle side of the Tyne Bridge to HMS Calliope on the Gateshead Quays to encourage more people to sign up to the bone marrow donors register.

Brian, 51, an NHS dentist, of Queens Drive, Sedgefield, County Durham, dressed in a tuxedo and tucked a box of Milk Tray under his arm for the exhilarating 30mph ride - in the style of the stuntman from the famous series of adverts.

He said: "It was absolutely brilliant. We managed to raise £2,500 as a family.

"If it wasn't for the Anthony Nolan Trust we wouldn't have Lucy, so we're happy to do anything to help raise money and awareness for the bone marrow register."

Lucy, a student at Queen Elizabeth College in Darlington, was matched with a donor on the bone marrow register two years ago and had the operation, which saved her life.

Lucy said: "It was really funny to see my dad do it in a tuxedo."

How you can join donor register

Three clinics taking place in Newcastle, Corbridge and Hexham over the next few weeks will allow people to join the bone marrow register.

The first will be held at Newcastle's Theatre Royal on May 19 and will be supported by The Journal's Join Up for Josie campaign.

Ideally, the trust needs young men aged 18 to 40, especially those from ethnic minorities, because there is a shortage of donors, but everyone is welcome to attend.

Simply turn up to the theatre, on Grey Street, between 10am and noon on May 19 to add your name to the register. A small blood sample will be taken.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer