Andy Jackson
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Fabulous February

Andy Jackson
Posted by
27 Feb 2015

Fancy tea parties, lab visits and a prime time slot on BBC London news mean it's been another busy month. Read on to find out more about what you've been up to February.

Reaching the giddy heights of everything we achieved in January was never going to be easy but you gave it a pretty go! Highlights for me are Wendy Leigh's fantastic Facebook Live and Rich Castle's highly successful lab visit and follow up blog post about the fantastic AML research that Dr Paresh Vyas and his team are doing in Oxford.

However there's been so much more besides. Here's a flavour of what you've all been up to:

1. The Girls Musical

Following swiftly on the heels of last month's premier was a series of preview shows ahead of a Royal Gala Performance which was attended by his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, Gary Barlow and a whole host of other celebrities. However in our eyes it was those Ambassadors who came to help out who were the real stars of the show. Here's a picture of Kat Tsang-Orr and Newton McGrath enjoying a well earned glass of prosecco:

Huge thanks to each and everyone of you that came on the night and helped ensure it was such a success especially Sarah Weltman who expertly steered a lady whose mum had just been diagnosed with CLL towards possible support and information that we could provide.

Afternoon Tea Party

In advance of the show 6 Ambassadors and their families also joined us for an afternoon tea party with the original Calendar Girls. The tea was a huge success as it generated some lovely press coverage including a nice piece on Kat Tsang-Orr in the Southend Standard:​

It was also a great opportunity for Ambassasdors to talk to some of our possible celebrity patrons like Strictly's Ore and John Sargent who I think Newton McGrath made a lasting impression on!

Photo opportunities like this are so important in raising awareness and help us build relationships with celebrities that could help us get blood cancer more in the public eye.

Bucket collections

A number of you have been helping out with the collections and merchandise sales for The Girls performances and I cannot tell you just how much of a support you've been so far. With performances every night Monday to Saturday and additional matinee performances on Thursdays and Saturdays we quite simply wouldn't have the resources to have been able to have held collections at every performance without you!

A huge thank you to everyone that's helped out so far - I will look to find out how much you've helped us raise and put a total together in time for the next newsletter.

If you'd like to help out wiht the collections and haven't already signed up to help out do email

2. Rich Castle's lab visit & blog

On Friday 17th February Rich Castle visited Dr Paresh Vyas at his lab in Oxford to find out more about the extraordinary research that he and his team are doing into acute myeloid leukaemia. Part of his researh includes a pioneering clinical trial that has had some very promising initial findings. You can catch up on Rich's blog here:

If you're interested in going on a lab tour or finding out more about ways that you can get involved with raising awareness about our research please don't hesitate to email us at

3. National press coverage

Right at the start of the month Melody Berthoud appeared on BBC London's Evening News who filmed an entire segment on blood cancer about her son, Andrew's, experiences with childhood ALL and the Duke of Kent's recent visit to one of our research centres

Sady the link is no longer live on the BBC website but Melody did manage to make a recording which you can find if you scroll back through the posts in the Bloodwise Ambassasdor Facebook group a bit and is well worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.

We also got a really lovely piece featuring Melody, Emma Harrison and the other Ambassadors that attended the Afternoon Tea Party on the Charity Today website ahead of the Girls Gala night:

Last and by no means least our very own Jack Abrey wrote a brilliant blog about the Girls musical, blood cancer and his role as a Bloodwise Ambassasdor for the Huffington Post which you can read again here:

If you're interested in getting involved in press work and haven't yet shared your story, don't panic! We're working on updating and sending out a press form for you to fill which will help us make sure we identify the right potential opportunities as and when they come in.

4. Fundraising update

10 of you have added your JustGiving pages to the Ambassador team fundraising page and have already helped you raise more than £11,500 towards our £250,000 target for the year.

Shout outs this month to Charlie Toon for signing up to take part in a 50 km walk from Richmond to Croydon, Aileen Lamb for hosting a prosecco day that raised more than £1,300 split between ourselves and Maggie's and Dan Holloway who helped support the Tenby Winter Walk which saw 168 people turn out to support the charity.

Honorouble mentions must also go to Jane Leahy and Anna Mamwell whose husbands have both signed up for the Prudential Ride 100 and will be riding for Bloodwise.

We'd love to put together Ambassador teams to take part in some of this year's regional bikeathons. If you're interested in getting involved do email me directly at

Find out more about how you can get involved in my Ambassador Fundraising Challenge blog.

5. Sharing your blood cancer experiences

February has been another fantastic month for your blogs about your blood cancer experiences. Jude Irwin, Anthony Crossley, Anna Mamwell, Melody Berthoud, Sissy Bridge, Katie Ruane, Anne Freeman, Luke Ponsonby and Jane Leahy have all written blogs this month several of which we've also gone on to share on the Bloodwise Facebook page.

Ranging from reflections on diagnosis and treatment to reaching significant milestones and debating how much you should research blood cancer the blogs have been open and honest and so, so helpful to others who emboldened have gone on to start sharing their own experiences and seek our support and information which is fantastic.

I'd like to say a particular thank you to Jude for her fantastic blog about her own experiences supporting her husband Nige who is currently undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and to everyone that supported and encouraged her to write the blog.

Jude was very nervous ahead of writing the blog but you gave her the strength to actually go through with the blog and thank goodness you did as it's fantastic and provides a a brilliant account of what it's like to care for someone with blood cancer.

If you missed it you can read Jude's blog here

Big thanks, too, to Erica Farmer and all the other CLL patients among you that took the time to leave comments on another CLL patient's blog. Adrian is very anxious about the prospect of starting treatment later this year and was desperate to talk to other CLL patients. Your comments made a huge difference to Adrian who actually emailed us to thank you all and I know has also left replies to many of you that left a comment.

We really want to do more of this kind of engagement going forwards and we'll be in touch in due course with further details on how you can get involved. However you don't need to wait for us to start engaging with others in our online community - just remember that you need to be signed in before you can leave a comment on someone's blog.

6. Wendy Leigh's Facebook Live

On Thursday 23rd February Wendy joined us for our latest Facebook Live to talk about her experiences with follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Wendy was absolutely brilliant in the interview which reached more than 50,000 people and received some lovely feedback from a number of patients.

A huge thank you to Wendy for helping out and to Martin O'Brian and everyone else that took the time to send in a question for me to ask ahead of the Q&A.

Rich Castle has very kindly agreed to do next month's Facebook Live but we're on the look out for willing volunteers for April and May. If you're interested do drop me an email at and I'll look to arrange a date and time that works for you.

Watch Wendy's Facebook Live again here

Other news

Last Friday saw NHS England confirm that they will now fund second transplants routinely for all patients who relapse after a year or more in remission. This is fantastic news and only happened as a result of the blood cancer community coming together and speaking with one voice on the issue.

Anthony Nolan deserves real credit for spearheading the campaign but I know that a number of you played significant roles in the campaign not least Emma Paine.

February was also the cause for celebration for Jane Leahy, Ann Bromley, Melody Berthoud, Luke Ponsonby and Anna Mamwell who all celebrated significant milestones of some description during the course of the month.

Last and by no means least a huge welcome to the Ambassador programme to Karen McCaffrey who I'm sure will introduce herself to you all in the Ambassador Facebook group soon.

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