Left – Cuttings chart the formation of the Branch; top right – Renee with our former Director Douglas Osborne (left); bottom right – at East Barnet Festival.
The Barnet and District Branch was founded by the late Mrs Irene Burrage in 1969. Renee Burrage began supporting the then Leukaemia Research Fund when her daughter Pat was diagnosed with leukaemia in the 1960s whilst at school. Pat was a patient at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, and died from the disease aged 16 years.
Renee, with support from her husband Peter, was determined to do all she could, and to motivate others too, to help prevent similar tragedies in other families. In the spring of 1969 Renee organised a fundraising social evening for the fund, in St Marks Church Hall, New Barnet. Fifty people attended. The highlight of the evening was the showing of a film, entitled ‘Their lives in your hands’ which showed the development of new drugs used to fight leukaemia. That evening not only raised £22 for the Leukaemia Research Fund but it was to be the first of many, many, years of local fund raising events in Barnet and District for blood cancer research.
At Renee’s suggestion a group of people agreed, at that first social evening, to form a committee for a new local Branch of the Leukaemia Research Fund. It became the Barnet and District Branch and continues its work today as the Barnet and District Branch of Bloodwise. We continue to hold our Annual General Meeting in June at St Mark’s Church Hall with the kind permission of the Minister. Years ago there was a sub branch in Potters Bar attached to the Barnet Branch. Today nearly half our Committee live in Potters Bar and we are one committee, Barnet and District Branch of Bloodwise.
Renee Burrage was appointed Chair of the Branch in spring 1969, a position to which she was re-elected, unanimously, every year until her death in March 2010. Renee was a most remarkable lady, who received a Civic Award from the London Borough of Barnet, in part for her fundraising work for Leukaemia Research.
By 2008 the branch had raised approx. £600,000 for blood cancer research and since then the records will show approximately a further £80,000 has been raised.
One of the early branch events was a fundraising dinner at The Apollo Suite, Cockfosters, Hertfordshire, chaired by Professor R. M. Hardisty, MD, MRCP, FRCPath, Consultant Haematologist at Great Ormond Street, and attended by Dr Gordon Piller, first Director of the Leukaemia Research Fund, and also House Governor and Secretary to the then Board of Governors of the Hospitals for Sick Children (below right).
Another Branch photo event was the Planting of a ‘Ray of Hope Rose’ at Barnet Hospital by Sir Sydney Chapman MP, MP for Chipping Barnet (below left).
Over the 45 years of the Branch many people have served on the Branch Committee. Our Branch Treasurer, Mr Derek Yates, has been in post since the very early days and at least two other members of the present Branch Committee have served on it since the early days, Mrs Phyllis O’Brien was a founder branch member and Mrs Alma Armstrong and Mrs Beryl Southey have been members for many years. We presently have three members of the Branch Committee who have been awarded the Certificate of Merit. Our Committee has a total of nine members, all of us now have had at least three score and ten birthdays and some more!! We have had really excellent younger members too who have been a real joy with their energy and enthusiasm but of course, university and college study, jobs, marriage and families also demand their time.
Most of our Committee Members have lost loved ones through blood cancers, or other cancers and serious illness. Happily two of them met through fund raising with our branch and have now been partners for over ten years. One is our Secretary and the other our Events Organiser.
We keep in close touch with Head Office, particularly through our Branch Chairwoman, Mrs Brenda Webb who has been a regular volunteer assistant at Head Office for many years.
We are supported by a great number of people through donations of money, goods and gifts for sale at our stalls, coffee mornings, a garden party and quizzes. Very special thanks are due to Mr and Mrs Carole and Barry Euesden who have been our excellent quizmasters at our Fish and Chip Supper Quiz and their supporters for fourteen years!
A big thank you to too to all who assist us at store and street collections. Friends, and the Churches attended by some of our Committee members, and members and groups the University of the Third Age have given generously of their support. The Spires Shopping Centre Barnet, where we hold our annual Blood Cancer Awareness Week, and the proprietors of Barnet Market, kindly allow us to hold our stalls on their premises. The Potters Bar Town Football Club and the Vintage Vehicle Museum, Enfield, The Capel Manor Classic Car Show and the Potters Bar Rotary Club, the East Barnet Festival and the Northaw Point to Point Races kindly allow us to hold our stalls at their summer events. We wish to acknowledge The Arkley Pub and Restaurant, Barnet, and the Crown Pub and Restaurant, Broxbourne and their patrons for their continued kind support through our collecting boxes.
As Christmas approaches we have nearly completed our programme of events for this year and have arranged our planning meeting in January to begin our programme of fundraising for 2016.
Best wishes everyone.
From Barnet and District Branch