Christine Carol Ann Sturgess, aged 72, from Chacombe near Banbury, met His Royal Highness Prince Charles, having been invited to the special socially-distanced event with five other Breast Cancer Now supporters, in recognition of their amazing fundraising efforts. HRH The Prince of Wales made a visit to the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London on May 13.
In 2001 Christine started fundraising for Breast Cancer Now, then called Breast Cancer Care, following the death of two of her friends from breast cancer and diagnosis of her sister-in-law. In 2006, Christine took over as chair of The Show Committee, which organises an annual event in aid of Breast Cancer Now, and since then the event has raised over £5.6M for the charity.
Christine met her friend Lesley Seville in 2007. Lesley who was living with breast cancer, went on to model in The Show in 2008 and then join Christine on The Show Committee. Sadly, in 2019 Lesley was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer of the liver and died from the disease in November 2020, donating her body to medical research. Christine and the Fashion Show Committee recently completed the £1,000 Challenge for Breast Cancer Now in Lesley’s name.
For the last 20 years Christine and her family have tirelessly supported Breast Cancer Now across many events and activities, donating and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds, which has gone towards funding vital research at the Research Centre.
Christine shared her motivation for raising funds for Breast Cancer Now and her experience of meeting HRH The Princes of Wales.
She said: “Meeting His Royal Highness at Breast Cancer Now’s Research Centre was a real honor, and wonderful to be able to share this with all the other fundraisers here today.
"I’ve chaired the Breast Cancer Now Show committee since 2006, and feel so proud to have raised £5.6million during that time. It’s so wonderful to see the amazing work that the charity’s funded researchers are doing today, and this has inspired me to keep going and raise even more in the future.
“Along with my fellow members of the Breast Cancer Now Show committee, I was inspired to take part in £1,000 challenge after our dear friend Lesley died from secondary breast cancer in November 2020. After we completed the challenge, we nominated Lesley’s name to be displayed at the Research Centre, and it is wonderful to see that here today too.”
HRH The Prince of Wales has been Breast Cancer Now’s Royal Patron since 1998 and in 1999 he opened the charity’s Research Centre as the UK's first dedicated breast cancer research centre.
His Royal Highness’ visit comes at a time when Breast Cancer Now, like many medical research charities, has been forced to reduce its investment in research due to a drop in fundraising income caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and highlighted why the support of individuals like Christine has never been more important.
Claire Pulford, associate director of community and events at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We were so proud to invite Christine to meet our Royal Patron HRH The Prince of Wales during his visit to our Research Centre, to say thank you for her amazing fundraising efforts.
“In 1999, the money raised by our £1,000 Challengers enabled us to open the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Centre as the UK’s first dedicated breast cancer research centre, and the £1,000 challenge has continued every year since. Without the support of amazing fundraisers like Christine, the world-class research breakthroughs we’ve achieved in the past 21 years would not be possible.
“Yet despite the public's continued support, our work has been significantly impacted by the pandemic – our researchers lost 230,000 hours in labs across the UK in the first wave, and we’ve endured a blow to our fundraising income that means we’re now less able to fund new science. All at the same time as delays in diagnosis and disruption to breast cancer services.
“Every year around 55,000 women and 370 men in the UK are diagnosed with this devastating disease. That’s why we need long-term investment in research, to enable new breakthroughs that can transform the lives of people affected by breast cancer.”
Every year around 590 people in Oxfordshire are diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Now estimates that almost 11,000 people could have been living with undiagnosed breast cancer in the UK at the end of 2020 due to the pandemic. Innovative breast cancer research has never been more urgently needed.
For more information about Breast Cancer Now or to help make world-class research and life-changing care happen visit www.breastcancernow.org