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Charity and the credit crunch, please give generously!

Posted on 26 February 2009 | 8:02am

I’m off to a meeting this morning with Cathy Gilman, chief executive of Leukaemia Research, to review the charity’s plans for our fiftieth anniversary next year.

Every organisation has a history but I think ours is particularly symbolic of the role charity plays in British culture. It started literally with one child’s death almost sixty years ago, and one family who wanted to turn the grief they felt into good for others.

Susan Eastwood was a giggly little six year old living with her family on an estate in Middlesbrough when she was struck down by leukaemia. Back then, childhood leukaemia was a virtual death sentence.
When she died, her parents David and Hilda couldn’t face the idea that her death was without any purpose. Without knowing what they would do with it, they decided to raise some money by selling off her favourite toys and possessions. They found that other people wanted to support them.

Eventually they raised £3,000 and took that cheque to the first dedicated leukaemia research unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital. From those beginnings, Leukaemia Research the charity was born. We still have the same Forget Me Not logo designed by the Eastwoods.

Today Leukaemia Research is a £20 million a year charity. More important, because of its work, a child hit by leukaemia now has a ninety per cent chance of survival.

If you go to the charity page of this site, you will see why I got involved – the death of my best friend John Merritt and his daughter Ellie back in the 1990s. I am now chairman of fundraising.

It is never that easy asking for money. But it has certainly been made harder by the credit crunch and the economic situation. But these good causes do not go away with the bad times. On the contrary, the need becomes greater.

Our meeting this morning is specifically about plans for something called The Big Five-0, a plan to get fifty organisations or individuals to donate 50,000 pounds for our fiftieth anniversary. There are still an awful lot of generous people out there. There are still people with considerable wealth.

I’m hoping that some of them chance across here or that you might know someone, who knows someone, who just might have the money and the desire to help this great charity.
They can contact me here, or go direct to the charity at or 0207 405 0101.

  • Marcus Dillistone

    What about a Leukaemia Research 50th anniversary film as a communications centre piece, with cut-downs and ‘modules’ for web use, etc.? Powerful, and with years of potent use ahead – It would pay for itself in spades. I’m sure It could be produced at cost by someone.

  • Jonathan Satchell

    Just posted a photo of the presentation this morning on our Flickr page here:

    Jonathan Satchell | Web Coordinator | Leukaemia Research

  • Alastair Campbell

    Thanks for the picture Jonathan. Good news there – the guys in the picture were handing over one cheque (from a bike ride they did last year) but also committing to raise 50k from their next one, and so become one of our fifty Big Five-O donors for the fiftieth anniversary. So a nice surprise outcome from the meeting today

  • Alina Palimaru

    I applaud your efforts. Organizations like this one fill in a huge gap created by rapacious pharmaceutical companies that refuse to invest in R&D for products that, based on their projections, may not be profitable (at least not in the short run). Often times, the lure of profit makes these firms disregard the fact that the market value of Leukemia treatment as only a fraction of its social value. This is why we have twenty brands of Arthritis medication, which can be sold lucratively to wealthy client segments.

  • Lee Newsham

    Alistair, it was very good to meet you and Cathy this morning and PDR Construction and Dransfield Properties are looking forward to continuing our association with Leukaemia Research this year by supporting the Big Five-O in the Charity’s 50th anniversary year. Good luck with signing up other individuals and organisations to this excellent initiative.