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All the latest news, updates, blogs & events from Race Against Blood Cancer

Yearly Archives: 2016

Inspiring young people to fight the cause at the National Citizen Service

Race Against Blood Cancer joins the government backed NCS programme which helps provide students with valuable skills for life.

The National Citizen Service (NCS) is an experience that any 15 to 18 year-old doesn’t want to miss! And with more than 200,000 young people signed up every year, Race Against Blood Cancer and the team were eager to play their part.

So, on Tuesday 5th July, Joe Bates and Alex Morrison traveled to Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands to deliver the first of a four days’ worth of workshops to those enrolled on to the programme.

Giving young people the chance to embark on exhilarating challenges, make a mark and build skills for work and life, this hugely valuable initiative sees young people across the country effectively volunteer their summer to develop a social action project which can have a positive impact on their community.

Joe and Alex delivered four workshops throughout the day to 80 participants. The workshops raised awareness of different types of blood cancer, treatments available and the need for more donors on the registry – especially people from an ethnic minority and mixed heritage background.

On the day the groups were also taught how to carry out a donor drive, with the hope that many of the young volunteers will run their own donor drives over the summer to support Race Against Blood Cancer’s aim of registering another 3,000 potential lifesaving donors before Christmas.

Alex Morrison, the charities Community Engagement lead said “it was a fantastic day and we spoke with some really motivated and enthusiastic young people.  They were a credit to the staff and we really hope that they can now go away and help us reach our targets.  We will certainly help them in any way we can and I’m excited to deliver more workshops over the coming months”.

Jemma Knight, NCS Coach was equally as pleased with how well the students embraced the day “The young people were really inspired from the workshop, they found the talk interesting and some of the group have already set their sights on running a Donor drive as their social action project. We had a young girl within the group who suffers from a blood condition herself, and she said she felt encouraged throughout and really enjoyed the session”.

If you feel that you or someone you know would like to organise or attend a Race Against Blood Cancer workshop, please contact us at info@raceagainstbloodcancer.com

Joe & Alex preparing for the workshop The RABC team in action Enjoying the workshop Swabfaces at the NCS Workshop Post Workshop Picture

Alex Morrison talking to the Huffington Post

Support us by voting for Alex Morrison at the National Diversity Awards

To all our supporters, we need your vote before 20th June.

Our beloved Community Engagement Lead, Alex Morrison, has been nominated as ‘Positive Role Model’ for the 2016 National Diversity Awards and needs your help to win.


Alex has been a driving force behind the charity since day one and has travelled around the country to raise awareness for blood cancer. In our first 12 months, he has helped us register over 2000 new donors and he was recently informed that our efforts have led to find our first of what we are confident will be many matches that will save the lives of blood cancer patients in need of a living saving bone marrow or stem cell match.

To give Alex some much deserved recognition for all his efforts and even more importantly, help get Race Against Blood Cancer more visibility at this increasingly influential event, we need you to take just two minutes out of your day to vote for Alex. It’s important that you do this in the next few days as voting closes on June 20th.

Every vote counts! Thanks for your support and stay posted for some hopefully positive news soon.

Running across the country for May Bank Holiday

The May Bank holiday weekend was a crazy time for our engagement team as they completed two donor drives within 24 hours and 155 mi apart!

The marathon started on Sunday evening as the team headed to Myyst nightclub in Birmingham to join eager clubbers to raise awareness of the charity.

In our white t-shirts amidst the dressed up crowds, our team definitely stood out! Response was really great though as clubbers happily interacted with us, despite having been queuing in the cold for ages. They also managed to register just under 50 new donors, the majority of which from ethnic backgrounds, making it a very successful event.

The team wrapped up just before 2 AM and drove back down to London for a few hours’ sleep but were back up and running before they knew it as they headed to the Guyana Folk Festival in Croydon.

The tiredness quickly subsided as the music and carnival feel took over and the team started interacting with the festive crowds. With live music, performance, awards, extremely good food and various stalls, it was a great event to celebrate life and get people to sign up as new potential donors. After a brief speech on stage, Alex even ran into Ram John Holder, Porkpie from Desmond’s, backstage which confirmed that it was a great day.

This was a last minute drive and the response we got was great. While dancing and festivities made it hard to register many donors, we did manage to get 26 new registers.  The team will also be back for the Guyanese tea party in July where, now that we are known, we expect to see great engagement and a lot more fun to come!

Alex Morrison & Ram John Holder at the Guyana Festival
Alex Morrison & Ram John Holder at the Guyana Festival
Singers and dancing at the Guyana Festival
Singers and dancing at the Guyana Festival
Presentations, speakers and animation at the Guyana Festival
Presentations, speakers and animation at the Guyana Festival
Music entertained the crowds at the festival
Music entertained the crowds at the festival

Campaigning for Tommy & Rilind at Capital Xtra Radio (VIDEO)

Earlier this year, we headed to Capital Xtra Radio to support the #match4tommy and #match4rilind campaigns. We also got to interview Tommy and Rilind’s mums who keep fighting the battle for their sons everyday.

Watch some of the footage and help spread the word for these amazing little boys who are both still waiting for suitable donors.




Race Against Blood Cancer joins the fun at Shropshire Kids Festival

On April 23rd & 24th the Race Against Blood Cancer team joined the thousands of excited children and parents at Shrewsbury Quarry Park for our first appearance at Shropshire Kids Festival.

The basic yet incredibly worthwhile concept is bringing fun activities for under 14’s into one place and with more than 100 activities to get involved in, the festival did not disappoint. From donkey rides, face painting, to an inflatable Helter Skelter, there was something to keep every child entertained and that bought thousands of families together for a fun filled weekend.

Registration team of volunteers at Kids Fest in Shrewsbury
Registration team of volunteers at Kids Fest in Shrewsbury
Slides, pools and games made it Kids Paradise
Slides, pools and games made it Kids Paradise
Parents were really keen to find out how they could help
Parents were really keen to find out how they could help

Race Against Blood Cancer pitched up with a huge gazebo with both an energetic and passionate team. Following the family and children theme, the team was made up of volunteers from both London and local Salopians, parents and kids a like.

The team enjoyed the frequent sunny spells and luckily the less frequent showers. Running around the festival speaking to anyone that would listen, raising awareness and signing up the much needed bone marrow and stem cell donors, the team was in full flow.

In working in partnership with the #match4tommy campaign we hoped for a great turn out and we weren’t disappointed! By the end of the two days and an amazing effort by the whole team, we managed to collect 200 new donors! This was an amazing outcome and an event we all thoroughly enjoyed. The atmosphere was buzzing throughout and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend.

A huge thanks goes to out to Beth Heath, Rachel Davy, Emma Davies, along with all of those who came down and helped out. Lastly and most importantly, thank you to all the kind donors we signed up on the day. We hope you continue to share our hopes and dreams of finding the likes of Tommy and every blood cancer patient a lifesaving donor match.

Beating Blood Cancer at the Flagz Mas Band Carnival (VIDEO)

Positive energy and colourful vibes were what drove our Race Against Blood Cancer team to the Flagz Mas Band Carnival in Shoreditch in March to raise awareness for the #match4tommy campaign.

There was no better way to change the future of those in need than by engaging with the crowd, dancers and families that came to the event. Our first ever video of the event says it all. Check it out!


Race Against Blood Cancer

Promoting #Match4Tommy Campaign at Kids Fest, Shrewsbury

Another busy weekend is lined up for us as we will be heading to Kids Fest in Shrewsbury on 23rd/24th April.

It will be a very busy weekend for our Race Against Blood Cancer engagement team who will be at Shropshire Kids Fest on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th April. With entertainment for kids of all ages, it will be a great opportunity for us to raise awareness for the #Match4Tommy campaign which started when 4 year old Tommy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in January this year.

Race Against Blood Cancer at Kids Fest

Crowds of over 10,000 people, including children of all ages, are expected over the course of the two day event with many activities to keep the kids busy while the parents and teenagers from ages of 16+ take 5 minutes to sign up as new stem cell and bone marrow donors.

We are still looking for volunteers to join the team, if you are free and would like to help spread the word and have fun, please reach out to ben.westwood@raceagainstbloodcancer.com

You can also help us by spreading the word and posting within your networks. As a recent registrant told us at one of our latest events – “I registered after seeing the RABC posts. Even though I had researched stem cell and cord blood when pregnant I had no idea becoming a donor and finding a match could be done through a simple cheek swab.”

Follow us on social media and stay tuned for news, photos and updates throughout the event!

For ticket information and further details on the event, please visit http://www.shropshirekidsfest.co.uk/

Race Against Blood Cancer

Whether you’re an Olympian or yet to exercise this year – We Need You!

Race Against Blood Cancer is recruiting volunteers to take on the AJ Bell London Triathlon in August

On 6th and 7th August, Race Against Blood Cancer will be fielding a team of “triathletes” of all levels and backgrounds to take part in the AJ Bell London Triathlon. The London Triathlon is the world’s largest, attracting over 13,000 participants and 30,000 spectators each year.

Cyclist in Triathlon

Race Against Blood Cancer will have entrants in all categories over the weekend, including the full Olympic distance, the shorter sprint distance and the team relay.

It promises to be a great weekend where we hope to raise huge amounts of awareness and of course, sponsorship which will in turn help us save more lives!

If you are interested in entering this year’s event with us, there is still time! And don’t panic if you have never done a triathlon before, with a variety of distances, routes and wave categories to choose from, there is something for everyone!

For more information on how to participate in this year’s event with us, simply contact Ben who will fill you in on all the details.

Contact: Ben.Westwood@raceagainstbloodcancer.com

An explosion of beats, colours and dancers at the Flagz Mas Band Carnival party

An explosion of Soco beats, carnival dancers and colourful feathered costumes surrounded the Race Against Blood Cancer team as they took their donor registration drive to the Flagz Mas Band Carnival party on Sunday.

Beats, dancers and colours set the scene for the team’s donor drive at the Flagz Mas Carnival event at BoxPark in Shoreditch on Sunday 13th March.

Curiosity as to who we are and what we we’re doing split out of the carnival, with our team driving 91 people of all different ages, races and faces to donate in just under four hours.

Community outreach member Hayley Mills carefully explained to new donors that the most common misconception is that donating stem cells at the drive is a painful, or medical procedure, reiterating that the most torturous part is in fact the paperwork:

“It’s simple, everyone thinks it’s really scary, and we are going to stick something inside your arm, we are definitely not, we are not trained medical professionals, all it simply is is a swab.

“The longest piece of it is filling in a form, which is your doctors information and your ethnic mix, which we can help you with.”

A donor was drawn to donate for the first time because of the #Match4Tommy campaign, likening the gesture to the importance of helping a younger family member.

He said: “If I had a little brother, I would want to help him out, it took 2 minutes, it was painless, I felt kind of silly for a little while, but I knew the cause was good so I went for it.

Finding the process speedy and simple, he encouraged others to understand that a little amount of your time could save a life.

Continuing: “Try and save a little boy’s life, just doing a swab goes a long way.”

Race Against Blood Cancer community manager Alex was thrilled with how many donors the team managed to get in such a short space of time.

He said: “It was a fantastic day, we signed up 91 people in total, which was absolutely brilliant, thank you to everyone who came down and continues to support the charity and #Match4Vithiya and #Match4Tommy.

We have many drives upcoming, including one on the 19th of March over at Global Radio, where we are going to continue the search.”

See below a collection of photos from the day.

Race Against Blood Cancer at Flagz Carnival

Couple Registering as Potential Life Savers

Recruiting donors at Flagz Carnival

Swabbing is Easy at BoxPark Shoreditch

Organisers getting the crouds going at Flagz Carnival

Ben Registering a new donor

Fun for All at FlagzCarnival

Signing Up New Stem Cell Donors
Girls Filling in Registration Forms

Dancers at Flagz Carnival

Alex Morrison Increasing Awareness at Flagz Carnival

Race Against Blood Cancer backs the #Match4Tommy Appeal

Race Against Blood Cancer appeals for #Match4Tommy, a campaign supporting 4 year old boy diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

Tommy Simpson is an adorable 4-year old boy who loves nothing more than playing with his little toy airplanes and wearing his dad’s firefighter uniform, pretending to be just like him. But a few days before Christmas, all of these dreams came to a halt when he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) earlier this year.

Tommy dressed up in his dad's firefighter uniform
Tommy the 4 Year Old Firefighter

With the hope of finding a suitable stem cell donor, all Tommy’s family were tested but results this week came back negative, leaving Tommy’s fate in the hands of an unrelated donor.

From a mixed White British and Black Caribbean heritage, Tommy’s chances of finding a suitable donor, like many other mixed heritage patients, are sadly very low (less than 20%). In the UK, only 3% of donors on the registry are from mixed race and sadly many lose the battle due to this lack of awareness.

In response to this sad news, his parents – London firefighter, Nigel Simpson, 48, and Education Associate at Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd, Maxine Francis, 45 – launched an urgent appeal in partnership with the ACLT, calling for members of the public to help them save the life of their little boy and allow him to one day become the firefighter he dreams to be.

In a press release, Tommy’s parents said: “Tommy doesn’t have any siblings so the 1 in 4 chance of a sibling being a match doesn’t exist for Tommy.  We know the window of opportunity for an unrelated match being found is going fast with each day passing; that’s why we are appealing for people to join the stem cell register now.  Particularly if you are White Northern European, Black African or Caribbean and mixed race (white/black), you may potentially be able to save the life of our funny and beautiful little boy”.

ACLT co-founder and blood cancer campaigner Beverley De-Gale OBE knows what Tommy’s parents are going through, having experienced this over 20 years ago when her son was diagnosed with blood cancer.  “Twenty years ago ACLT was launched prior to us embarking on a 3-year national campaign to find my 8-year old son Daniel an unrelated match. The campaign was a success; Daniel went onto to become the UK’s first black individual to receive an unrelated stem cell donor.”

Beverley went on to add “In the same way we were committed all those years ago to find a lifesaving donor for our son, we are committed to raise awareness on stem cell donation in order to find a lifesaving donor for young Tommy.  It is crucial members of the general public come together to help this vibrant little boy”

In response to this appeal, 3 drives have already been scheduled to help the #Match4Tommy appeal while Tommy patiently awaits in hospital:

  • Saturday 20thFebruary at the Lucozade Power League, Croydon Hannibal Way, Croydon, CR0 4RW, 10.30am-4pm
  • Saturday 19thMarch at Capital FM HQ, Global, 30 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LA on, between 11am-6pm
  • Saturday 9th April at Stratford Fire Station -117 Romford Road, E15 4LY

The team at Race Against Blood Cancer were truly touched by this sad news and are in full support of the ACLT and Tommy’s parents in the efforts to find Tommy, and all other blood cancer patients, a potential lifesaving donor match. With plans in place for many more donor drives over the coming weeks and months, we hope to raise more awareness of the campaign and help save the lives of those in need.

If you haven’t already we urge you to join the donor register today by visiting our sign up page. Or, if you would like to help by organizing your own donor drive, please email us at donordrives@raceagainstbloodcancer.com

Many thanks for your support and let’s find a #Match4Tommy

Tommy was diagnosed with Leukemia in January 2016
Tommy was diagnosed with Leukemia in January 2016

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