Players and staff from Warwickshire County Cricket Club (WCCC) gave a boost to two cricket loving blood cancer patients when they made their annual visit to the Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE).
The Centre is supported by WCCC’s lead charity partner Cure Leukaemia and Club Captain Ian Bell, Director of Cricket Dougie Brown and other members of the playing and coaching staff made the short journey from Edgbaston to the QE for an update on the charity’s progress.
Professor Charlie Craddock CBE greeted the squad and gave a detailed update on how Cure Leukaemia’s fundraising, thanks to funds raised by WCCC and other partners, continues to benefit patients battling blood cancer in the Midlands. Without Cure Leukaemia these patients would have no further treatment options through standard care on the NHS.
WATCH: Players and staff from Warwickshire County Cricket Club visit the Centre for Clinical Haematology
Former England, Crystal Palace and Wolves footballer, blood cancer survivor and Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas also attended and addressed the room with his personal story and how the charity saved his life in 2005.
Two current patients, Andy Payne and Andrew Robinson, were then introduced to the players and invited to share their personal battles with blood cancer.
England International and WCCC Captain Ian Bell then presented the cricket fans with a signed bat and shirt to give both patients a huge boost.
54 year old freelance cameraman and father of three Andy Payne, from Hollywood in Birmingham, has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and is currently being treated at the CCH and benefitting from treatments made possible by Cure Leukaemia.
Andy, who has coached cricket for 12 years at Kings Heath Cricket Club, said:
"It was fantastic to meet Ian, Dougie and the whole Warwickshire squad. Cricket has always been a big part of my life so to be presented with a signed bat from one of Warwickshire and England’s finest ever players was a great honour.
I know the club do so much to help Cure Leukaemia and as a patient battling this disease it is comforting to know there are charities like this doing so much to help.”
Andrew Robinson from Halesowen, has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and is being treated by Cure Leukaemia funded specialist research nurse Donna Walsh on a world first clinical trial.
The 53 year old Engineering Sales Estimator and father of two said:
“It was a tremendous boost to meet the Warwickshire players and staff. I’m a lifelong cricket fan and I will treasure my signed Jonathan Trott shirt!
Without Cure Leukaemia’s funding I might not have been here to have the opportunity to meet the players and tell my story so I urge the public to continue to support this fantastic charity as they are helping people battling this dreadful disease every day.”
Recently appointed Captain of WCCC Ian Bell said:
"It’s great for some of our younger lads to hear about the great work that’s going on in the city and understand why Warwickshire support an amazing charity like Cure Leukaemia. We heard Andrew and Andy's stories and where the charity wants to go in the future and hopefully we can be a big part of that.
Having the squad here today you realise how much it means to others and we’re lucky to be ambassadors for Birmingham and Warwickshire.
It’s not just about taking wickets and scoring runs but also meeting people who love cricket and that’s a massive responsibility we have as well. We’re very proud to be a part of the Birmingham family."
WCCC Director of Cricket and Cure Leukaemia Patron Dougie Brown said:
“Hearing the inspirational stories of Geoff, Andrew and Andy makes you realise the amazing work Cure Leukaemia supports.
This charity is saving lives in Birmingham and we are very proud to continue our support at WCCC.
Having the opportunity to meet the people directly benefitting from funds raised for Cure Leukaemia was very humbling and we are looking forward to another successful year fundraising for this fantastic charity.”
Since 2011 WCCC has raised over £175,000 for Cure Leukaemia, a figure that has leveraged £1.75m in potentially life-saving drugs for blood cancer patients.
Cure Leukaemia’s Head of Corporate Partnerships Jackie Kelly said:
“The support WCCC has given Cure Leukaemia since 2011 has helped save the lives of patients battling this terrible disease.
Our relationship with WCCC not only raised vital funds but also raises the profile of the charity and we are keen to invite other Birmingham businesses to join the Cure Leukaemia family in the future.”