Pelham Allen
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My thoughts on being a Trustee and Trustees' Week

Pelham Allen
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04 Nov 2013

It is a great privilege to be a trustee of a charity, and an even greater one to be invited to chair the trustees. Being a trustee involves challenging and being challenged, setting strategic objectives and monitoring their achievement, and supporting the staff of the charity in their work. It is a fascinating and stimulating way of making a real contribution to a charity: a specialised form of volunteering which uses your time and talents for the benefit of others.

In July this year I was appointed Chairman Designate of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and will become a trustee and take up the Chairman's responsibilities later this month. I have spent this honeymoon period meeting the other trustees and the senior staff, and familiarising myself with the affairs of the charity. I am looking forward enormously to working with my colleagues to continue the growth of this very important cancer research charity, and play my part in the challenge of beating blood cancer.

I have recently read "The Emperor of All Maladies", by Siddhartha Mukherjee, and would recommend it warmly to anyone interested in the battle against cancer. It sets out very clearly the great progress in diagnosis and treatment that has been achieved in the last few years, and clearly conveys the pace of research and development of clinical practice. Anyone contributing to the battle against cancer at this time can really feel that they are part of a process that will dramatically reduce the impact of cancer in shortening otherwise healthy lives. I believe that within a generation it will be mercifully rare for anyone in the developed world to die of cancer before they have enjoyed a full and long life.

My personal interest in cancer comes from having lost my son David at the age of six to retinoblastoma, and having been successfully treated myself with a stem cell transplant (when this technique was experimental) for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Such is the pace of progress that if David had been diagnosed ten years later he would have survived, but if I had been diagnosed ten years earlier I would not. We are engaged in a race to understand and cure this huge family of complex diseases, but I am convinced that we will win and that we will do so relatively soon.

I am very excited to have the opportunity of working with my fellow trustees and the fantastic staff of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. We have a lot to do, but every confidence that great things will be done, and real progress made over the next few years.