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CHECT's patrons

Paralympic honour for CHECT

Darren Harris

Darren HarrisParalympian judoka and footballer Darren Harris has become patron of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust as it celebrates its 25th anniversary year.

The 39-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield, who was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma when he was 15 months old, was keen to get involved with CHECT to help raise awareness.

Darren said: “I'm honoured to able to help CHECT by becoming a patron as it celebrates its 25th year, especially after the support it offered to my own family when I was younger.

“I am really looking forward to working together on projects in the future.”

Darren has already signed up to support the charity by taking part in the 15-mile Carrots Nightwalk through London on September 21 to raise money for research into retinoblastoma.

He will also be opening and running in the charity’s sponsored Blindfold Race at its 25th anniversary weekend for trust members being held at Billing Aquadrome in Northants, on October 6.

Joy Felgate, chief executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust said staff and trustees were delighted to welcome Darren on board.

“Darren approached us, eager to get involved and help in any way he could. To have someone of his sporting talent become our patron, especially in the year of the London Games, is a huge boost for the organisation. We are excited about working with Darren to help inspire our younger members and raise awareness of the condition.”

Darren is in the London 2012 5-a-side football squad and has 95 international football caps under his belt. He has been playing for 15 years. He was a judoka in the Beijing Games after taking up judo only four years before when he quit his job in 2004 and began training full time.

Darren is six times European medallist with football from 1997 to 2007 and two times European medallist with judo in 2007 and 2009. He has also competed at six World Championships, with a best place of fifth in football in 2000 and ninth in judo in 2010.

CHECT gets the X Factor

Andy Abraham

We here at CHECT are delighted that Andy Abraham agreed to be a patron of our charity. Children who suffer with eye conditions is a cause close to Andy's heart and we are delighted to have his support.
Andy shot to fame in 2006 as a runner up in the X Factor and went on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Content in 2008.  Andy has helped CHECT at exhibitions, cycled from London to Paris to raise funds and promotes the charity as and when  he can during his busy schedule.




Three Strokes of Good Fortune

John Hungerford, Ophthalmology and Retinoblastoma Consultant

In 1982, after John Hungerford's predecessor Michael Bedford took unexpectedly early retirement, and while John was a senior registrar at Moorfields and at University College Hospital in London,  he was approached to look after the Eye Tumour Services at Barts and at Moorfields temporarily until someone could be found to take care in the longer term of children with retinoblastoma and of adults with melanoma.
John agreed with some trepidation as he had never seen a retinoblastoma and only three melanomas and because he had no training at all in either tumour. At that time it did not occur to John that he would stay on, that this was to be the beginning of a thirty year obsession with the treatment of retinoblastoma, and that in due course he  would become a co-founder of 'The Retinoblastoma Society' as CHECT was then called.
John often reflects that this inauspicious start with no pre-conceived ideas of how to treat children with eye cancer was probably the first of three strokes of good fortune.
The second was that, in addition to children with retinoblastoma, he was also able to see patients of all ages with other sorts of tumour and to be able to apply what he learned from them to devise new ways to treat the children.
The third, and undoubtedly the most valuable piece of luck, was that John was appointed at almost exactly the same time as his paediatric oncology and radiotherapy colleagues, Drs Judith Kingston and Nicholas Plowman, without whom none of the innovations that were to be introduced in London could have been achieved. Together, and with the help of so very many others, they were able to build one of the largest ever practices in eye tumours and to utilise the vast experience that they gained therefrom to the benefit of all who suffer from eye cancer as well, of course, to their own immense professional satisfaction.