The House of Commons hosted our annual Supporter Awards on Monday 27th October. Held in our 40th anniversary year and presented by comedian and author Dominic Holland, the award ceremony was the second occasion of its kind, with inspirational volunteers, fundraisers and supporters attending to celebrate the achievements and triumphs of the previous year.
Recruiter of the Year
The Recruiter of the Year award went to Joey Ziadi’s mum, Kaisha Morris. Joey is seeking a bone marrow transplant to save his life after being diagnosed with the extremely rare blood disorder Diamond-Blackfan anaemia in February this year.
Kaisha organised and ran several high profile donor recruitment events in Joey’s hometown of Northampton. One event, which attracted national press coverage, saw a remarkable 550 potential lifesavers join the bone marrow register in a single day in June.
Kaisha said: “It was just so amazing to win this award; I was so emotional. It’s our first proper chance to look back at all we’ve achieved and I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. I can’t thank Anthony Nolan and everyone in Northampton enough, they have supported us through everything and made this possible. This is just the beginning for us; we will keep fighting for Joey and others like him.”
Patient Champion Award
George Norton with his wife Mariacristina
Meanwhile the Patient Champion Award, newly introduced this year, was won by George Norton, a transplant recipient who has taken to blogging and social media, as well as the Anthony Nolan patient community forum, to support other patients going through a transplant.
George said: “I’m so proud to be able to play some part in the fantastic work Anthony Nolan does, so to be their first Patient Champion of the Year is a huge honour. Not only did they find me a bone marrow match to help save my life, but they’ve also supported me and so many others through all the challenges that arise before and after a transplant."
Volunteer of the Year
Peter Hodes, a longstanding volunteer who won the Simon Dyson Award for Volunteer of the Year, commented on the night: “It is wonderful to receive this award and volunteering for Anthony Nolan has enriched my life, whether it be packing spit-kits, visiting donors, talking to school children or couriering stem cells from home or abroad. But it's not about me, but rather the patients and what it can mean for their lives and also the remarkable donors.
Peter Hodes and our Chief Executive Henny Braund
It is also about Anthony Nolan and the other volunteers and what we collectively achieve. I hope this will inspire more people to support this amazing charity.”
The awards were an opportunity to pay tribute to little Margot Martini, who died on the morning of the event, and her family.
The specially commended award for Yaser Martini in the category of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) advocate of the year was a testament to his tireless dedication and devotion to saving the lives of those with blood cancer.
Even at this difficult time, Yaser and his family were still thinking of others and had asked Anthony Nolan to congratulate all the other winners and nominees on their fantastic work, as well as urging all of us to keep up the fight.
'So many fantastic supporters'
There were many other inspirational nominees and winners at the event, who were praised by Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan.
Henny said, “Shirley Nolan founded our charity in her search for a donor to save her son Anthony’s life, and others like him. Her vision was to ensure a donor is found for every patient needing a transplant. It’s the tireless effort of supporters, including all of our nominees, who continue Shirley’s vision and keep her legacy growing.
“This is the second time we’ve hosted the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards and it was a huge pleasure to see some of the people who have contributed so much to what has been a successful 40th year for the charity.
“We have so many fantastic supporters who play a key role in the charity’s lifesaving work. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”