A campaign to build a state-of-the-art childhood cancer facility in the North East has been given a £1 million boost.
On Friday night Dame Margaret Barbour, chair of the global lifestyle brand Barbour, announced the Barbour Foundation would be making the massive donation to the Future Fund.
The £1million gift to the campaign brings it one step closer to its goal of establishing a specialist children’s cancer research facility at Newcastle University.
The Future Fund aims to raise £5.5 million to create the Newcastle University Centre for Childhood Cancer, a state-of-the-art facility where the city’s academics and clinicians can advance and accelerate the children’s cancer research and treatment. It is a collaborative project between the University, the North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR) charity and Newcastle Hospitals’ Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH).
Dame Margaret, who is also a patron of the Future Fund, announced the £1million donation at a fundraising event hosted on Friday by author Bill Bryson.
She said: “I established The Barbour Foundation in 1988 to help charitable causes, cultural and community projects primarily in the North East. I am delighted that through the Foundation we have been able to make this donation to the Future Fund for such a worthwhile cause. Treatment of childhood cancer has been one of the success stories of modern medicine, but there is still further progress to be made. The Future Fund campaign will enable this progress to move on to the next level. I am extremely proud to be associated with this vital work.”
The donation brings the total raised by the Future Fund to £1.7 million since its launch just 11 weeks ago and it follows major celebrity endorsement from North East heroes including Sting, Mark Knopfler and David Almond.
Professor Josef Vormoor, Director of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University (NICR) and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at the GNCH, is leading the Future Fund campaign and said he was overwhelmed by this latest donation.
“The Barbour Foundation is renowned for the incredible work it does to help good causes in the region and we are extremely grateful to receive its support,” he said.
“The Future Fund is gathering some real momentum thanks to the support of the public and our donors and with their help behind us we are well on our way to hitting our target and ultimately giving more children with cancer a future to look forward to.”
The planned Newcastle University Centre for Childhood Cancer will be established in the heart of the Newcastle University campus and will help the city retain key staff and attract additional internationally recognised experts in the field. Work will focus on developing therapies with fewer side effects and treatments for children with advanced cancer of those whose cancer has come back.
Dame Margaret visited the children’s cancer ward at the GNCH to meet some of the patients who stand to benefit from the work of the Future Fund, including 10-year-old Mary Dafter of Benwell, Newcastle. In April, Mary was diagnosed as having developed a rare type of tumour called a Ewing’s sarcoma around her shoulder, a cancer made even rarer by the fact it had developed in soft tissue rather than in bone where it is usually found.
Mary’s mum Emma said: “It is so important to learn what we can about childhood cancer because this knowledge will help other children in the future. In fact it’s only because of the research on children ten or 20 years ago that doctors know how to treat children like Mary as well as they do now.
“The Future Fund is really close to our hearts because once you realise that this can happen to anyone – that life can suddenly change overnight for anyone – you realise how important it is to work together to give hope to all parents and children.
“Mary was always a very special little girl and in some ways we actually feel quite lucky to have faced this together as a family because it has made us realise more than ever how precious life is and how we all need to take the time to value the truly important things in life.”
For information please visit www.futurefund.co.uk . To donate visit www.justgiving.com/futurefundnewcastle , text NCFF01 plus the amount of your donation to 70070 or telephone 0191 208 7250. Support the fund on Facebook www.facebook.com/futurefundnewcastle and on Twitter @FutureFundNCL and use the hashtag #NCLFF