Serena S
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Thirsk national charity founder put behind bars

Serena S
Posted by
24 Jun 2010

A Thirsk resident is sticking by her convictions by taking part in a unique charity event to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, the charity which her parents founded 50 years ago.

Sylvia Gaunt has agreed to be sponsored to spend a night at Her Majesty’s Pleasure at Wealstun Prison on Thursday 13 May.

Sylvia will be locked in a cell at the category 3 prison in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, at 8pm on Thursday night and will not be release until 8am the following morning.

HMP Wealstun has recently been undergoing a period of refurbishment to convert the former Category D Open Prison into a Category C prison. The 'lock in' will take place in one of the newly refurbished wings and will give Sylvia a real taste of life behind prison bars.

"I’ve asked everyone to spare me a thought as I don’t sleep well anyway so I’m not expecting any whilst actually locked up," says Sylvia.

"I’m not looking forward to my impending loss of freedom but in all seriousness any discomfort will be worth it to raise money to help beat blood cancers."

In 1960 Sylvia’s sister, Susan, was diagnosed with leukaemia and just six weeks after diagnosis on June 29, she died. The Eastwood family – the two sisters, brother David and parents Hilda and Dave - lived in Middlesbrough at the time.

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 Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research was formed and has gone from strength to strength.

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.

"Fundraising events like this are a great way of continuing to raise money to invest in research to make sure every single child survives."

To date, the charity has raised over £350 million for research into blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. People can sponsor Sylvia’s night in the cells by visiting