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Our story: Derbyshire Branch

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
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26 Nov 2015

Top left – Kaylet Smedley (centre) with two of the Calendar Girls; top right – Joan (right) receiving our Certificate of Merit; bottom left – Mick and Sue Ward, who have been Branch members since 1983; bottom right – the Middleton family.

Where it started

“The Derbyshire Branch was the third branch to be formed. It was registered in mid-1965 but had been raising money prior to that and sending it to the local haematology department and the Eastwood family.

The branch was formed by Hedley Richardson, a local chartered accountant who had lost his son Anthony with leukaemia. Hedley had a wide sphere of influence and the people on the committee were for example a local councillor, a retired tax inspector, a journalist and several people who had lost relatives with leukaemia. I went to work for Hedley as his secretary in 1966 and so was involved with events and secretarial work. Hedley sadly died of a heart attack in 1969.

We also have a Chesterfield sub-branch, which was formed in June 1965 by Kaylet and Ron Smedley after their son Andrew was diagnosed with leukaemia, sadly passing away a year later. Kaylet’s first event was a coffee morning in November 1965 which raised £27.10 shillings – a significant amount in those days. In 1970 Kaylet spoke on fundraising at the charity’s very first annual conference in Cambridge.

Today

Over the years the branch has raised just over £1.9 million. One event which has taken place for over 30 years has been the ‘Golden Gates Gallop’, a fun run that has raised more than £50,000 to date. Alongside other sponsored events, bake sales and jam making, we have also run a Bikeathon, open gardens and recently received a donation from Cromford Cricket club following a charity match with the Emmerdale stars.

We’re still going strong, and a wonderful new event over the last two years has been the 24 hour sponsored walk, organised by the Middleton family, who became involved with us after the dad, Graham, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma aged 43. This has raised over £10,000.

So after all that what does it mean to me? I meet some amazing people, from fundraisers to patients and their families and also those who have lost loved ones.

In the words of a fundraiser who had lost her daughter: “Supporting the fighters, admiring the survivors, honouring the taken and never ever giving up hope.”