A star spangled line-up of North East heroes has pledged support plans to create a dedicated children's cancer research centre in Newcastle.
Musician Sting and TV writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais of Auf Wiedersehen Pet writing fame are amongst a contingent of much-loved and respected names from the world of music, stage, sport, business and community work to have become patrons of the Future Fund.
The 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 that has already earned them international recognition. 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) – home to one of the UK's leading centres for paediatric oncology.
The nine local heroes to have thrown their weight behind the campaign are all either from the North East or have strong links to the region.
The individual were also all nominated by the public as being some of the area's most influential people as part of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative's Local Hero campaign.
Others becoming patrons are award-winning children's author David Almond, Dame Margaret Barbour, Professor Sir John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University, Ray Jackson and Ray Laidlaw, of Newcastle folk-rock band Lindisfarne and Doreen 'Granny' Jardine, community activist who has been making a difference in the neighbourhood of Blakelaw in Newcastle for over 60 years.
Launched just nine weeks ago, the Future Fund has already generated more than £700,000 towards its plans which will focus on developing therapies with fewer side effects and treatments for children with advanced cancer of those whose cancer has come back. The new celebrity support is not only expected to help raise the profile of the appeal, but also the running total of donations.
Explaining his support for the campaign, Sting said: "The research teams at Newcastle University are doing vital work on the development of more effective and less harmful cancer treatments for children. I am proud to lend my name to support the Future Fund campaign."
On behalf of Dick Clement and himself, Ian La Frenais said: "We have both lived in many different places over the years, but the North East still has a place in our hearts. The Future Fund for Children with Cancer makes us proud of our links to the region. The work being done by researchers at Newcastle University's Northern Institute for Cancer Research is hugely significant, not only to the families it supports regionally but also to the overall understanding of childhood cancer and how best to treat it."
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 was delighted to announce the news of the new patrons.
"We are overwhelmed by the level of support we have had from so many celebrated friends in the North East. We are grateful to the University's esteemed cancer researcher Professor Sir John Burn who helped galvanise the endorsement of fellow local heroes. I have no doubt that with their help and the generosity of the Great British public we will reach our target and ultimately give more children with cancer a future to look forward to."
Professor Sir John Burn said: "Being chosen to be a 'local hero' was an unexpected honour. There are many people I would have chosen first, especially the kids who have to conquer cancer."
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.
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
and on Twitter @FutureFundNCL and use the hashtag #NCLFF
(c) The Journal by Sarah Scott