Following the French Government’s announcement of seven-day quarantine restrictions for visitors to France from the UK, ex-England footballer and blood cancer survivor Geoff Thomas and the man who saved his life in 2003, Professor Charlie Craddock CBE, are urging both the UK and French Government to provide the special dispensation required to ensure the £1,000,000 fundraising event (The Tour 21) can go ahead as planned from Saturday June 19th to Sunday July 11th.
With just 3 weeks to go until the start of The Tour 21 and with the team surpassing £700,000 raised towards their £1,000,000 target for Cure Leukaemia, the event and the national blood cancer clinical trial network it funds, is under serious threat if Geoff and his fellow Tour 21 riders do not receive the special dispensation required for them not to have to quarantine for the mandatory seven-day period on arrival in France.
On World Blood Cancer Day, Cure Leukaemia, as the first ever official charity partner of The Tour de France in the UK for the next 3 years, has also received direct support from General Director of The Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme,
Cure Leukaemia recorded a £1,700,000 fundraising shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Tour 21 team, which was increased from 20 to 25 riders after this event’s postponement last summer, aim to help the charity address this shortfall in funding by completing 3,384km and all 21 stages of the Tour de France one week ahead of the professionals.
Leading the team on his what he hopes will be his fifth and final Tour de France challenge, Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas, 56, said:
“We are so grateful to Christian Prudhomme for his kind words of support as we continue to train and raise funds for the challenge that we hope still awaits us all in a few weeks.
However, this week’s announcement by the French Government has placed The Tour 21 event at serious risk with three weeks to go until we are due to set off.
As a former patient myself I know that vital funds from events like The Tour 21 save lives and hence why I urge both the UK and French Governments to provide us with the special dispensation we now need to take on the challenge and raise £1,000,000.
With last year’s event also being postponed we have been training now for nearly two years and throughout the endless hours of training we have undertaken, we have always had patients at the forefront of our minds knowing that this is much more than just a cycling challenge.
By raising at least £1,000,000 from The Tour 21 we will ensure more blood cancer patients survive this horrible disease and give hope to blood cancer patients across the world.”
All funds raised by The Tour 21 team will be invested in the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) which has been solely funded by Cure Leukaemia since January 2020.
TAP is a network of specialist research nurses at 12 blood cancer centres located in the UK’s biggest cities and a facilitatory hub based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This network enables accelerated setup and delivery of potentially life-saving blood cancer clinical trials to run giving patients from a UK catchment area of over 20 million people access to treatments not currently available through standard care.
Despite these challenges, TAP has enabled the opening of two pioneering clinical trials already in 2021 and Cure Leukaemia Co-Founder Professor Charlie Craddock CBE stresses the international significance of these studies:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that rapid recruitment of patients to pioneering, practice informing clinical trials is absolutely fundamental.
There is no point having this wave of new drugs being created by global pharmaceutical companies sitting on laboratory benches and the CureLeukaemia-funded TAP network provides the perfect vehicle for these new treatments to be assessed as quickly as possible.
Not only do patients directly benefit as a result of these trials by accessing potentially life-saving therapies; the information generated from these studies informs the treatment of blood cancer across the world.
The funds raised by Geoff and all of The Tour 21 team will enable globally transformative and life-saving work to continue and there can be no stronger message than this on World Blood Cancer Day.”
Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin continued:
“A person is diagnosed with a form of blood cancer every 35 seconds across the world and whilst significant advances are being made in the treatment of this cruel disease, we must continue to ensure networks like TAP are funded by events like The Tour 21 so that more lives can be saved.
We wrote to both Grant Shapps MP and Priti Patel MP four weeks ago asking for special travel permission to France and sincerely hope that Geoff and The Tour 21 team will be able to take on their gruelling challenge on June 19th and, in turn, raise vital funds for Cure Leukaemia. If the event is unable to take place, then our ability to fund the Trials Acceleration Programme is at serious risk.”
For more information on The Tour 21 click HERE.
To sponsor Geoff and The Tour 21 team click HERE.
Professor Craddock discusses the vital importance of the TAP network:
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives