Make it a date in Josie's memory

Charity bosses have set the next date for readers to become a potential life-saver in honour of Josie Grove.

Charity bosses have set the next date for readers to become a potential life-saver in honour of Josie Grove.

Nigel Gorvett, right, of the Anthony Nolan Trust, signs up Lucy Weidner, from Spital Tongues, and John Graham, from Durham, for the bone marrow register

Organisers at the Anthony Nolan Trust are holding three bone marrow registration sessions through the Josie Grove Leukaemia Fund in a bid to boost the amount of potential donors in the region.

The Journal is urging readers to attend the next clinic on June 8 at the village hall in Josie's home town of Corbridge.

Organisers are hoping people will flock to the session in memory of the inspirational teenager, who had two unsuccessful bone marrow transplants before she died in February.

The 16-year-old's parents, Cliff and Jacqui, jewellery designers, of Princes Street in Corbridge, are urging people to join the register, and are hoping scores of their neighbours will head to the clinic.

The announcement comes after the first of the three clinics was held at Newcastle's Theatre Royal on Saturday.

Only a handful of people visited the session, but organisers at the trust are confident the clinics - paid for by a £10,000 donation from the Josie Grove Leukaemia Fund - will enable hundreds to become potential life-savers.

They thanked every person for turning up and giving their support.

They also spoke to reassure people, who may have been put off by fears over the procedure.

Trust area manager Peter Finnegan said: "People need to remember it isn't the big deal they think. It really is a very quick and simple process, but at the end of the day you could save someone's life.

"It's hugely important that people understand that to join the register is really a very tiny thing and is not painful or difficult in the slightest, but at the end of the day you are putting yourself forward to save someone.

"It's a great shame there weren't more people at the Theatre Royal, but I'm absolutely positive we are still going to get hundreds of people registering during these three clinics.

"Cliff and Jacqui have given this money to enable the charity to register 143 people and it will be fantastic if we can get that, and more. We want everyone who is eligible to put their name on the register." Registering takes about 15 minutes and only involves filling a medical questionnaire and giving a small blood sample. Those required to give bone marrow can choose between two simple procedures.


A session is also set to be held in Hexham.

Brave Josie Grove touched the hearts of many, including Journal editor Brian Aitken and columnist David Banks, who both did sponsored slims to raise money for our Josie Appeal. Reporter Chloe Griffiths tells how meeting Josie moved her to sign up to the bone register.

Seeing pictures of courageous Josie Grove should be more than enough inspiration for anyone to join the bone marrow register.

Meeting her twice before her death left me in no doubt that I should visit a clinic set up by the Anthony Nolan Trust. Like many things, it is something I have often meant to do.

I carry an organ donor card, have been to give blood and have always meant to join the register.

And Saturday's clinic at the Theatre Royal was the perfect opportunity. The entire process, which lasted no more than 15 minutes, was totally painless.

Five minutes is filled completing a short questionnaire which checks your relevant personal and medical history.

After that is completed, a charity counsellor goes through the form, answering any questions and explaining what the process involves, before you are taken in for a blood sample.

It was no more than a very minor, insignificant scratch, and the job was done.

A small plaster and I was away, clutching one of the charity's "thank you" cards. It now takes about six weeks to hear if I am eligible and, presuming there are no complications, I will then be added to the list of donors.

Having been fully briefed about the two processes of giving bone marrow, I know that if I get that call-up there will no fear. In fact, I walked away from Saturday's clinic feeling quite proud and just hoping there is another Josie out there that I can help.


How you can help

The next life-saving clinic to sign up bone marrow donors will take place on June 8 at the village hall in Josie's home town of Corbridge, Northumberland.

Watch this space for details of the time the event will run.

Josie's parents, Cliff and Jacqui, of Princes Street, Corbridge, want to double the number of donors in the UK in memory of their daughter - but they need your help.

They have made a £10,000 donation to the Anthony Nolan Trust to cover the cost of adding more than 140 people to the bone marrow register at clinics in Corbridge and Hexham as well as the one in Newcastle at the weekend.

The events are supported by The Journal's Join Up for Josie campaign. Only people aged between 18 and 40 can join the register, but people of all ages are welcome to turn up to find out how to help in other ways.


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