A million thanks to you all

October 1, 2011

In 1997 when June’s family and friends set up the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund in her memory, we hoped we might raise £40,000 or so. From a standing start, this seemed ambitious.

“In our wildest dreams, we never imagined we’d be here more than a decade later, announcing over a million pounds raised,” said June’s daughter and founding trustee Kimberley Stubbs.

“It’s an extraordinary achievement by all our supporters and fundraisers. It is also heart-breaking. Much of this money has come from small donations of ten or twenty pounds, often when family, friends, colleagues have been lost to this dreadful disease.”

“We are determined that monies raised in their memory will one day improve the outcomes for mesothelioma patients, so that fewer and fewer families have to go through the suffering that mesothelioma causes, both to patients and their families.

“We will also continue to speak out against the mining and use of asbestos, the only known cause of this disease.”

The Fund set out with the aim of funding research, contributing to clinical trials, organising educational seminars and providing advice and support to patients and their carers.

We have done all of these and more; we were instrumental in establishing Action Mesothelioma Day as the UK’s national day of activity and awareness (now on July 1); we funded the first ever national patient and carer day (and subsequent events) and we supported Mesothelioma UK’s advice and patient support service from the very beginning.

And of course we have funded research – over £450,000 in grants for research and education to date. Progress towards new treatments for mesothelioma, like all medical research, is not as fast as we would hope, but in the absence of an NHS strategy and national plan for research into mesothelioma, we are proud to have funded important work over the last decade.

We are the UK’s first mesothelioma research fund, and the only independently registered charity. Voluntary trustees run our charity, so all the money raised is spent on our objectives. We acknowledge the kind support of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, whose administrative support (free of charge) has kept the show on the road. We would also wish to remember the brilliance of June’s counsel Robin Stewart QC, who is now unfortunately suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

None of this would have happened without June Hancock; an extraordinary, brave, dignified woman who touched the lives of all who knew her, and inspired all of us at the fund.  As the playwright Alan Bennett said: “Those of the calibre of June Hancock are heroes.”