I have been a Trustee for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research for over seven years. I became involved having seen my wife Gill, fighting Acute Myeloid Leukaemia over a period of 15 months most of which was spent in hospital. At the same time the 17 year old daughter of some close friends was in the same hospital, in the next isolation bay to Gill, fighting the same disease. The rollercoaster treatment regime was debilitating, often painful and emotionally draining. Despite all they had been through, neither survived.
When I had the chance to become a Trustee, I felt the business and marketing skills I gained from building up a media agency could help in the fight for funds to support an outstanding range of talented research specialists who are dedicated to finding better treatments and cures for the myriad of types of blood cancers. Over 25,000 people each year are diagnosed with a blood cancer and only about half survived their disease.
At the time, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research was keen to harness business skills to grow and develop awareness of what we are our research teams were achieving, help fund new opportunities with clinical trials, grow our supporter base and provide more support for patients as they undertook their treatments. I felt I could make a contribution to achieving these objectives.
What I do as a Trustee
Running a charity the size of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research requires a team of talented and committed managers and staff to deliver the objectives for the charity that have been agreed between the Trustees and the Management Team. I work with other trustees to ensure high calibre senior managers are appointed and we have refocused the direction of the charity to deliver measurable improvements in patient benefit. To help achieve this I am involved in a range of committees to focus on finance, analysing how our research is improving patient quality of life as well as setting and monitoring performance targets in achieving improved outcomes for patients.
What is important about the role of a Trustee?
There are over three thousand charities in the UK so competition for funds is fierce. We therefore need to access the best skills and experience available, not just in our research teams but in running professional and successful businesses. This means we can focus our income to deliver the best possible results and raise more funds to invest in beating blood cancers. We are fortunate that our Trustees bring a wide range of skills including legal, people management, finance, marketing, business management and finance investment. We are all happy to give our time freely which enables Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to use our input without diverting precious funds to gain this specialist expertise.
Are we helping to make a difference?
Over the last seven years, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has become much more focussed on the journey of patients coping with their blood cancer. New drugs and treatments are now available thanks to our research investment and we are saving more lives. Patients now have quicker access to clinical trials and new therapies. The charity has improved the quality of information we provide and we are in the process of developing forums to enable patients to have direct dialogue with experts about their specific disease and to share their experiences with other sufferers.
At our Impact Day last April, one of eminent researchers, Professor Tariq Enver, explained how we are getting within ‘touching distance’ of cures for a number of the blood cancers and with better treatments, the quality of the lives for patients will continue to improve. I have been proud to play a small part in the successes we are now seeing.