Cathy Gilman
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Just 3 months of volunteering...!!

Cathy Gilman
Posted by
18 Sep 2014

15 years ago today I started as a volunteer with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, it was going to be 3 months of volunteering while I decided what next in life!


In fact I'd missed the importance of today's date and it was only when I started getting congratulatory messages on LinkedIn that I realised. So today I've been unusually contemplative, thinking about the last 15 years with such mixed emotions and especially thinking of my cousin Rob, who at just 8 years old inspired me to try to make a real difference in the world. 

By 1999 Rob had been battling leukaemia for many years and in the summer of that year we knew that his transplant had failed. At the time, children diagnosed with leukaemia were usually given a 75% chance of survival, so although we knew he was seriously poorly we had been reasonably reassured by the statistics. Sadly we were in the other stats and Rob passed away just two months after I joined Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research as a volunteer.

Leather and Lace

Rob inspired in me a ferocity to ensure that other children, other people, did not suffer the way I saw him suffer. So it was going to be volunteering for 3 months and then I'd sort out my life. But then I decided to be the first ever corporate fundraiser when I was lucky enough to be offered the job, I worked on partnerships with Dairy Crest and Grattan - I'll never forget standing in the rain watching local band "Leather and Lace" perform on the back of a truck in Bradford long before Britain's Got Talent was even a sparkle in Simon Cowell's eyes. I imagined Rob on his cloud laughing at me, I'd been a fashion buyer before I volunteered, travelling to New York, Paris and Milan!

Treasured Memories

In time I became Director of Fundraising and then 7 years ago Chief Executive. My memories would fill a book, but the most important ones are treasured memories of the wonderful people I have had the privilege to work with; the indomitable spirit of our Branches; the courage of patients and their families, the genius of our researchers and clinicians- the friends I have made are countless and I am blessed to be inspired every day by those around me.

Saving Lives

Most important of all though, I think about the difference for children like Rob in 2014. Survival has improved by an incredible 1% for every year I've been at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, from 75% to 90% for the leukaemia that Rob had. But don't for a minute think that means that the job is done. 

We don't want children to just survive blood cancer, we want them to be completely free.

Free from side effects
Free from fear
Free to live their lives
Free to be themselves

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

How appropriate then that this is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and we are doing all that we can to focus attention on the need to ensure we save every young life with our Children Dream Big campaign. My personal favourite is the person who wanted to change their name to "squirrel" when they grew up! 

Money and stuff

We all have our own passions, but if you have a bit of spare cash today please do make any contribution that you can, we really do make every £ we are given work very hard. But it's just as important that people know abou the need to save young lives, so if cash is tight, it's just as important if you can share our campaign pages with your friends- we reached more than 100,000 in 3 days on Facebook- that's a very cost effective advertising campaign.

Thank you



Great blog Cathy!

Your experience just goes to show what an outstanding cause and great place to work the charity is. It's incredible to think how far we've come in the time that you've been at the charity but what's truly exciting is how much further we can go. Here's to another 15 years of beating blood cancer!


I hadn't realised the anniversary, Cathy, or that you have been working at LLR for as many as 15 years.
Thanks for everything, Cathy.


All congratulations are well-deserved. Certainly when I became ill 7 years ago LLR did not have a very high profile.Thank you for all you have done in the past, and for all you will be doing in the future.



I am sorry I missed your special date. You have made such a difference, the Fund has really benefited from your kind, generous and empathetic leadership. Carry on your excellent work.