The House of Commons hosted Anthony Nolan’s annual Supporter Awards on Tuesday 22nd November. The ceremony was the fourth occasion of its kind, with inspirational supporters, campaigners and fundraisers attending to celebrate the achievements of the previous year.
Supporters from across the country were recognised in fifteen categories – ranging from Donor Champion of the Year to Individual Fundraiser of the Year to the Shirley Nolan Award for Special Recognition.
The Donor Champion of the Year Award was won by George Stafford. George’s two best friends, Aidan and Harry, were diagnosed with rare forms of blood cancer within months of each other. Desperate to do something to help, George joined the Anthony Nolan register on his 16th birthday. Then, unbelievably, when he was 19, he donated bone marrow to a stranger. Since his donation, George has spoken to the Daily Mirror and BBC Radio 5 live about his experience, and inspired hundreds of Marrow volunteers with his recent talk at the Marrow AGM in October 2016.
George said: ‘It feels humbling to have been awarded the Donor Champion of the Year Award. My best mate, Aidan, is only alive today because a stranger was willing to donate stem cells, so it feels amazing for me to be able to save a life too. It’s such a special experience; it’s only natural that I’d want to share that story with as many people as possible.’
This year’s Individual Fundraiser of the Year Award was won by Euan Duff. Euan started fundraising for Anthony Nolan after his dad, Colin, was diagnosed with cancer and received two stem cell transplants. He said, ‘As long as he’s still fighting, I’ll be doing something crazy to share the pain.’ Euan has taken on a cycle ride from Germany to Anthony Nolan’s London offices in recognition of the journey of his dad’s stem cells, the Penrith Triathlon and the Great North Run (twice!). In total he’s raised an incredible £17,000.
Euan said: ‘I’m thrilled to have won the Individual Fundraiser of the Year Award. These fundraising challenges became a coping mechanism for me while my dad was going through the transplant procedure. I wanted every challenge to show people the constant struggle that transplant patients live with during their first 100 post-transplant days.
‘I’m so proud of this award, but my achievements can’t compare to those of the transplant patients or of Anthony Nolan. They achieve so much every single day. Anthony Nolan gave my dad another chance of life, not once, but twice. Nothing I do could ever repay them. I’m just so happy that my dad and I are able to celebrate together as we plan the next adventure.’
The Shirley Nolan Award for Special Recognition was won by Alice Byron. Despite being diagnosed with MDS and then leukaemia, Alice campaigned tirelessly for Anthony Nolan. She joined Cardiff Marrow to recruit donors and raise funds, and wrote an incredibly witty, honest and powerful blog about her experiences – which inspired thousands of people to join the register. Alice continued her studies in hospital and received a 2:1 for her English degree. She sadly passed away shortly after receiving a stem cell transplant, but her legacy and the fundraising in her memory will have a lifesaving impact for years to come.
Jonathan Byron, Alice’s father said: ‘I know that Alice would have felt so honoured to have won the Shirley Nolan Award for Special Recognition among such inspirational supporters of this incredible charity. We are and always will be immensely proud of her immeasurable strength, courage and love for life.’
There were many other inspirational nominees and winners at the event, who were praised by Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan.
Speaking on the night, Henny said: “Hundreds of people support Anthony Nolan and these awards are a wonderful opportunity for us to recognise so many of the amazing individuals, groups and organisations who have been truly exceptional this year.
“Each year, the selection process is incredibly difficult, with so many passionate and committed people who have gone the extra mile to champion our work to choose from.
“Our work relies on the dedication and support of everyone who has been nominated this evening. All that we have done so far - and all that we want to do in the future - wouldn’t be possible without the commitment and energy of all of you in this room. Together, we can save and improve more lives.”