On Friday 11 October we marked 10 years of the groundbreaking partnership between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and Anthony Nolan.
To celebrate the landmark tenth anniversary, SFRS brought together donors, recipients, partnership volunteers and a host of other guests at a special event at its national headquarters in Cambuslang.
The event was supported by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who recorded a personal address.
In the last decade, the SFRS has recruited 14,500 potential lifesavers to the stem cell donor register. 53 of these recruits have gone on to donate their stem cells to give a patient with blood cancer a second chance of life. The SFRS has also raised more than £80,000 for Anthony Nolan.
In 2009, the partnership between Strathclyde Fire & Rescue and Anthony Nolan was initiated by then Area Commander, Ally Boyle. Ally had recently been diagnosed with myelodysplasia (a type of blood cancer). He quickly realised that both Strathclyde Fire & Rescue and Anthony Nolan existed to save and improve lives, and that together we could have a hugely positive impact.
There are now over 26 volunteer groups, operating all the way from Orkney to Dumfries, with additional groups in development. They go above and beyond to raise awareness of blood cancer and recruit people to the stem cell donor register. This was initially achieved through events in community fire stations and workplaces, but is now predominantly achieved through the SFRS Education Programme.
SFRS Chief Officer Martin Blunden said: “This is an outstanding partnership, one of the most amazing that I’ve seen within my time with the fire and rescue service.”
“It has truly made an incredible difference to the lives of so many people, while engaging with young people across Scotland in the most positive way.”
Ally Boyle, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to charity in 2018, said: “The strap-line for our partnership is ‘Working together, saving lives’ and that is exactly what we have done.
“The fire and rescue service has always been a very charitable organisation, and I feel this partnership is a magnificent example of its finest traditions.
“I am humbled by what the partnership has achieved in the past decade. What started as a small recruitment drive in a few fire stations has grown into something truly incredible.
“Our target at the beginning was to recruit 1,200 people over three years. Today, we’ve educated more than 20,000 young people about blood, stem cell and organ donation; we’ve recruited more than 14,500 people to the register; and 53 have gone on to make potentially life-saving donations.
“We have been able to positively impact so many lives, and I am hugely excited by what we can continue to achieve in the future.”
Henny Braund, Chief Executive at Anthony Nolan said: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating 10 years of the innovative and award-winning partnership between SFRS and Anthony Nolan today. In this time, the SFRS has recruited 14,000 potential lifesavers to the stem cell donor register.
“Without the astounding work done by the SFRS, the 53 people with blood cancer or a blood disorder who found a donor recruited by SFRS, may not have ever been given their second chance of life.
“On behalf of Anthony Nolan and all the patients we work with, I would like to thank the SFRS volunteers who have made all of this possible. I look forward to supporting this incredible partnership for hopefully many years to come."