Fifty years ago the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research was founded in Middlesbrough by the Eastwood family following the tragic death of their beloved daughter Susan aged six.
Since its humble beginnings the charity has grown significantly and to date has raised over £350 million for research into blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
It has nearly 200 volunteer fundraising Branches and groups, all determined to raise money to fund the charity’s life-saving research.
To celebrate this remarkable achievement and 50 year milestone Middlesbrough Council today announced it has adopted Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research as its Charity of the Year.
The Council has teamed up with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to host a series of events to raise awareness of the charity’s strong links to the town and involve members of the community in fun and active celebrations to raise money for the cause.
The Eastwood family, parents Hilda and Dave and daughters Sylvia and Susan, lived in Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough.
In 1960 Susan was struck down with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and just six weeks after diagnosis on June 29, she died.
The family were determined that the loss of Susan would mean something positive for all other families facing the same ordeal so they began raising money to help doctors find a cure for what was then a little known cancer.
Since then, thanks to the continued support of thousands of families like them, the charity has gone from strength to strength.
Sylvia, who now lives in North Yorkshire, still supports the charity today and has teamed up with Mike Wren, a Middlesbrough fundraiser for the charity who lost his daughter Charlotte to leukaemia aged just three,
They will be present in Middlesbrough’s Centre Square on Wednesday, April 7 along with 50 Middlesbrough primary school children and the Mayor of Middlesbrough, Ray Mallon, where they will release 50 balloons to launch the year of celebration. Ian Parker, the Chief Executive of Middlesbrough Council will also join them.
Events throughout the year include:
- Wearing red to school and work days
- Forget-me-not walk in Stewart’s Park
- Fundraising at the 5k road race and fun run
- Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research stalls at events including the Middlesbrough Mela and Cleveland Show
- A Forget Me Not flower bed in Centre Square - the flower was Susan Eastwood’s favourite flower and is the symbol of the charity
- A Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research memorial wall in the shopping centre
- A community celebration event at the end of the year
The Council will also encourage local businesses to fundraise for the charity during the year and council staff will participate in events, including its flagship 10k road race, to raise funds.
Mayor Ray Mallon said: “When Sylvia Gaunt and Mike Wren approached me to ask the Council for its assistance I had absolutely no hesitation.
“They are impressive people who have responded to personal tragedies by dedicating their lives to helping others. I would urge the rest of the town to join the Council throughout this year in celebrating this charity’s success over 50 years.”
Ian Parker said: “Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is a real homegrown success story for the town and at Middlesbrough Council we are extremely proud to be in partnership with the charity for its 50th anniversary.”
Sylvia Gaunt said: “When we first started fundraising all those years ago, we wanted to make sure that other families didn’t have to go through what we did. It great to know that, thanks to 50 years of research, 9 out of 10 children now survive the most common form of leukaemia. To be able to celebrate our anniversary in this way, here in Middlesbrough, is wonderful.”
Cathy Gilman said: “Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is incredibly proud of its roots and we still see ourselves as a family charity – a family of supporters united in our determination to beat blood cancers. Middlesbrough Council’s commitment to fundraising will help us ensure more patients survive leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.”