The first Paul O’Gorman patient hotel opened in 2004, helping to make life easier for families coping with the often long stays in hospital needed by children with cancer. Meanwhile, we funded new facilities in Bristol, and committed millions to research into new treatments for childhood leukaemia.
The Paul O’Gorman Building, at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, opened in April 2001 and we contributed £500,000 towards state-of-the-art, child-friendly MRI scanning facilities, enabling doctors to monitor even subtle effects of a child’s treatment.
This new hospital was the first purpose-built children’s hospital in the South West and became a national and international referral centre for children needing bone marrow transplants.
In 2004, the Paul O’Gorman Patient Hotel at Great Ormond Street opened its doors. GOSH treats children from all over the UK, seeing one in every 10 children with cancer. The Patient Hotel provides pleasant, comfortable accommodation for families travelling to London for outpatient appointments.
Research is a major focus for us and in 2003 we invested over £1 million to explore better treatments for infant leukaemia. It’s fortunately very rare, but is exceedingly difficult to treat successfully, and children diagnosed under one year have a particularly poor prognosis.
We committed a total of £1.77 million to fund a team of scientists at the Institute of Child Health for a further five years. The team had made a major breakthrough and our funding helped them to move to the next step of their vital research.
Another £400,000 went towards facilities at the Northern Institute of Cancer Research, bringing together well-established research groups from the University of Newcastle to learn more about the specific genes that are implicated in leukaemia to develop more effective, targeted treatments.
The world’s first international conference on the causes of childhood leukaemia took place in 2004. Delegates and speakers from leading research centres came together with one purpose in mind – the prevention of childhood leukaemia.
Presentations featured ground-breaking research into the causes of childhood leukaemia, including the role of viruses and infections, electric and magnetic fields, air pollution and diet.
During the conference, we launched a new £1 million fund for research into the causes of childhood leukaemia, and awarded ‘young investigator’ prizes to help some of the talented young individuals presenting work at the conference develop their research.
We also hit the headlines in 2005 when the Draper Report was published, reporting that children in England and Wales who lived within 600 metres of a high voltage power line had a significantly increased risk of developing leukaemia.
We used this report to raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs), getting coverage on four breakfast news shows and in many of the national papers. We continue to work with policymakers to raise awareness of the link between childhood leukaemia risk and proximity to high-voltage power lines.
To fund more facilities and new research projects takes constant fundraising, and in 2002 we launched our very first programme designed specifically for children – the Children’s Marathon Challenge – and 81,346 children raised more than £470,000.
We also became the official charity for the 2002 Flora London Marathon, and broke two records – for the largest team ever fielded with 1,338 runners, and the highest total ever raised, a staggering £1.75 million. Our runners included Frank Bruno and actress Brenda Blethyn in her first ever marathon.
In 2003, 2,000 runners across the UK, including Lloyd Scott who did the Great North Run dressed in a deep sea diving suit, raised nearly £2 million.