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A tribute to a lovely man

Posted on 18 June 2009 | 5:06pm

I make no apology for renewing so soon the appeal I made here yesterday for donations towards Leukaemia Research’s Big 5-0 campaign, in which we are trying to get fifty donations of fifty thousand pounds to celebrate the charity’s fiftieth anniversary next year.

If you remember, I said at the end of the blog about the launch of our appeal at Somerset House that the continuing need for funds to research a cure and better treatments was brought home to me at the end of the event when a doctor told me a friend of ours, who has been fighting leukaemia for some time, had just been moved to intensive care, and that the prospects were not looking good.

That friend was Henry Hodge, and I have just had a call from his daughter to tell me that he has died, aged 65. He was a lovely man, big of build, stature, voice, personality and character. He was a man of immense intellect and principle, whether in his work as a solicitor, judge, and asylum and immigration adjudicator, or in his voluntary work for bodies like the National Council for Civil Liberties, or deputy director of the Child Poverty Action Group.

He was also a fantastic, loving support for his wife Margaret as she pursued her political career in local and national politics. She resigned her ministerial position to help him fight this bastard of a disease, which he did with courage and extraordinary good humour, putting up with some pretty horrific treatments along the way to today’s awful conclusion. She will have many friends as well as a loving family to help her through her grief, but their friends will find it virtually impossible to imagine Margaret without Henry.

He was one of the unlucky seven out of ten adults who succumb to leukaemia. That three out of ten who get it survive, and eight out of ten children who are diagnosed also survive, is in large part down to the work of Leukaemia Research. When Henry was born in 1944, leukaemia was a death sentence for anyone who got it.

After I posted the blog yesterday, a Facebook friend had the idea of ‘Facebook friends of AC’ trying to become one of the 50k donors, and volunteered to help me raise the funds through social networking. So this morning, before I had the terrible news, I was talking to Kate White at the charity about setting up a new Justgiving page aimed at generation donations in that way, up to fifty thousand pounds.

I was planning to launch it next week. But I have asked Kate to get the page going as soon as possible, so that the next fifty thousand pounds I raise can be in honour of Henry Hodge, and a tribute to his life, and the bravery of a struggle that, sadly, he has lost.

*** Leukaemia Research have now created the new page www.justgiving.com/alastaircampbell

  • gary Enefer

    Poem for Henry and his family-God bless

    by Teresa of Avila

    Let nothing upset you
    Let nothing frighten you
    Everything is changing
    God alone is changeless
    Patience attains the goal
    Who has God lacks nothing
    God alone fills his need

  • Catherine Palmer

    That is so sad. I look forward to the page being up, and I will happily donate. I watched your vlog yesterday of the launch of the appeal, and you made the point that there is something in the human spirit that wants us to make something good come of something bad, and that is why I think so many of us give to charities. It is a good idea to try to use social networking in this way too. I follow you on twitter and if all your followers gave ten pounds you would be over the fifty thousand already. If your Facebook friends also gave ten pounds, you would have two fifty thousand pound donations . Now I know it doesn’t work like that and we all get asked to make donations to different things all the time, but I hope you get the support this needs

  • Paul McAllan

    I was involved in an asylum case a few years ago, when I acted as a witness in support of a Somalian friend, and Mr Hodge was the judge in the case. He was very methodical and very fair in his handling of everyone. I did not expect to see you writing about this today, as someone told me you had been writing about the attacks on Romanian people in Belfast, so it was quite a shock. I wish you well in the appeal in his memory

  • Angela

    I know you got involved with Leukaemia Research because your best friend died, and then his daughter died, so it must be really upsetting to have another friend die of the same illness, though I know it is more common than many people think. I am a regular contributor to Cancer Research but I make an exception for this

  • Kate White

    Here’s the justgiving page in memory of Henry – http://www.justgiving.com/alastaircampbell. We’re all thinking of his family and wish them all the best at this dreadful time. If we can raise £50,000 together, what a great way to remember a great man.

  • Arlen Pettitt

    Terrible news, but I hope you and the charity can meet your target in tribute.

    I’m not quite a ‘Facebook Friend of AC’ (although I may one day take that final step…), currently I’m merely an ‘AC blog-reader’, but this provides an opportunity for those of us whose pockets don’t run quite as deep as 50k to do a little for the Big 5-0 campaign.

    A genuinely altruistic use of social networking, and one which I’m sure will garner much support.

  • Alan Quinn

    Ally, there’s a fiver on there from me, sorry it isn’t more but I seem to be sponsoring everyone at home and at work at the moment on fun runs, beer walks, marathons in the desert, school walks etc.
    Best of luck with your campaign!

  • Katharine T.

    Dear Mr. Campbell:
    I hope you reach your goal, as all cancer research including Leukaemia is important, and it is good that you have a specific one that you hope to help conquer.

    However, all the research in the world will not do a damn thing if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly.
    I know this for certain, because my father would be alive today if he hadn’t been such a coward and waited too late to go to the doctor. In a way he didn’t die in vain because I have spoken to my friends and family longly and loudly about the importance of being diagnosed quickly. As a result, 3 family members and one work colleague are all now cancer free because I kept banging on about the symptoms of colorectal cancer (the cause close to my heart) and as my colleague said “you made me more afraid to NOT go to the doctor than my nervousness of doctors”.

    It is also because of the death of my father that my mother is extremely vigilant and as a result, she has been free of breast cancer for more than 10 years mostly because it was caught early.

    Early detection and treatment is as important as research. Communication is paramount.

    I’ll get off my soap box now, sorry about that. Best of luck to you sir.

  • Jane A

    I hope everyone has noted the web address from Kate’s post and considered donating. I have some thoughts about how and when to make this more possible for people going forward. I would think sympathisers who have lost friends and family, or care about those who have, would find that link handy.

    It is always difficult in a recession to find a way to do this. But – as an example – if you buy a paper (the same info is free on the radio) or a coffee at Starbucks, and you could consider not doing so for a week every month, & donating that money instead, those small sacrifices save lives. If you can, do.

  • Antigone

    Note there are two justgiving Alastair Campbells. The other one’s very worthy too but ours is Alastair with an a (and has his picture on it – of course…)

  • gary Enefer

    Just a word on Jane A. sh ehas been amazing but ” putting her money where her mouth is” has left me with a terrible dilema on contributing. Chrstian teachings tell us that the people who give the most often have the least and ,even though Jane A probably means well , it smacks of her doing it for her ego which is counter productive. Having said that she has done well and has put her money where her mouth is. It would have been even more effective if she had just given £250 without making the rest of us feel as if we don’t put our money where our mouth is….

  • Jane A

    @Gary. I assure you, I do not give anything to any charitable cause for my ego. I do it to reduce the incidence of needless loss of life. My “I put my money where my mouth is” is simply a comment to emphasise that I would not ask anyone to donate at a level which I would not do myself. I certainly can’t afford it. I have stopped letting that prevent me doing the right thing.

  • Emilie Chevalier

    Good God, Gary. I’ve never been actively involved in politics and this blog and AC’s FB page are telling me I’ve been doing the right thing all along. All these petty things petty people keep bringing up, trying to make conflict out of nothing. Woody Allen-esque neuroses belong in novels and screenplays.

    Jane would probably not have mentioned anything had AC not thanked her and he did that out of gratefulness.

    This was a tribute page before you started moaning. Once in a while, I suggest just letting one go by.