The Friends of Rosie

Raising money for research into childhood cancers for over twenty five years.

The Friends of Rosie Children’s Cancer Research Fund, based in Bowdon, has just celebrated 25 years of raising money to fund research into childhood cancer.  The charity was set up in 1991 by local mum, Lisa Larkin and friends, after her five-year old daughter Rosie tragically died from neuroblastoma, a rare but aggressive childhood cancer. 

When the charity was first established, Rosie’s family participated in a local documentary to promote the work of the charity. In the footage, which you can view here, Lisa summarises the purpose of Friends of Rosie, “I would like to see a situation where no more parents have to sit in front of a doctor and be told that we can’t cure your child. I think we can do better than that.” Lisa and the other trustees of the charity have spent a quarter of a century facilitating research into creating better outcomes for children like Rosie.

The charity works towards better outcomes for children affected by cancer

The charity seeks to address the two main issues that specifically relate to childhood cancer research. Firstly, childhood cancer is less common than cancer in adults and this means that research into this type of cancer does not attract as much funding from large commercial pharmaceutical companies or national cancer charities. Secondly, many treatments are developed with adult patients in mind and the fact that children’s bodies are still developing and growing can mean that they are less effective and sometimes damaging with life-limiting long term effects.  Since Rosie’s death the charity has raised an amazing £2.5 million pounds and funded 25 research projects, which have made a significant contribution to the better understanding of childhood cancer and the development of treatments appropriate for children.

Friends of Rosie focuses on funding the first two years of new research projects allowing for the development of sufficient evidence to then approach bigger funders for clinical trials. A typical first year of research will require £70,000 worth of funding. The charity is very cautious in its spending. It only funds projects that can produce viable evidence after one year. Funding for the second year is only approved after this evidence has been carefully considered.

Most of the research projects that the charity funds take place at the Universities of Manchester and Salford, The Manchester Cancer Research Centre or at The Christie. Recently an award of £65,000 has been made to a team at The Christie to research the possibility of using immunotherapy to treat brain tumours in children. It will concentrate on those tumours which have the worst prognosis and those that are the least responsive to more conventional treatments.

The charity has received local support from Trafford Law Society, Manchester law firm Slater Heelis, Altrincham Concert Orchestra and even the stars of Coronation Street who helped to promote the sale of charity Easter Eggs last year. Recently a surprise legacy of £220,000 was received from a gentleman in York who specified in his will that part of his estate should be left to a charity benefitting children. His executors chose Friend of Rosie to be the beneficiary and this generous act will fund around three research projects.

The charity funds research into new treatments for childhood cancers

However, as you can see from the costs outlined above, this volunteer-led charity always needs more funding. Childhood cancer affects 1 in 500 children and is still the leading cause of death in children under 14. There is still much work to be done. If you would like to be involved read the fundraising brochure here which has loads of money spinning ideas for individuals, schools and companies or visit the website here.

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