IT was a charity born out of loss, but one that has brought great hope to families of those who have been diagnosed with leukaemia.

For 25 years the Leukaemia Busters charity has been leading the charge to find a cure for the disease, which claims thousands of lives each year.

Thanks to their work, a number of scientific breakthroughs have been made which has helped advance the treatment of the disease.

To mark the milestone the Southampton-based charity is planning a series of events to highlight its vital research work – which is dependent on donations from the public.

Along with events including a star-studded silver ball, the first major fundraiser of the year sees supporters take to their boots and trek along the beautiful Purbeck coast to raise much needed cash.

Joining the Leukaemia Busters Purbeck Odyssey Walks will be television personality Paul Heiney, who is best known for his work on ITV’s Countrywise.

He will be among those taking part in the walk on May 18. Leukaemia Busters has been organising the successful series of sponsored walks along the stunning Dorset coastline since 1999.

The event is open to all different abilities with walks from a four miles around Corfe Castle up to a 26-mile marathon walk together with other walks of seven, 12 and 19 miles in length.

Paul said: “In the last few decades, the treatment of leukaemia has taken enormous strides forward, and I am more than happy to take a good few strides myself on this Purbeck walk to support the work of Leukaemia Busters.

“Research is a hugely complex business which most of us will never understand, but I know one thing – in the end it all comes down to money.

“Breakthroughs don’t happen overnight; it is a long, slow process which is why we must keep up our support.

“So, a good few strides from me this weekend, in the hope of greater strides to come in dealing with leukaemia."

Online registration for the event can be found at purbeckodyssey.

Alternatively call 023 8077 5590 (24-hour service) or write to Leukaemia Busters, MP3, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, Hampshire.


How Leukaemia Busters was born

Leukaemia Busters was founded in 1989 by three sets of parents, Wendy and Robert Sutcliffe, Julie and Paul Daws and David and Bee Flavell, whose children at that time were undergoing treatment at Southampton General Hospital for leukaemia or lymphoma.

David and Bee were, ironically, already research scientists working in the field of using antibodies in the diagnosis of leukaemia and lymphoma in their laboratories at Southampton General Hospital.

The appeal was initially set up to raise enough money to pay for a dedicated research laboratory which was named after Simon Flavell, the couple’s only son who tragically died from the disease aged just ten.

With the help of famous faces including Gary Lineker, whose own son was treated for the disease, along with supporters Harry and Sandra Redknapp and David Gower and his wife Thorunn, who have since become patrons, the charity continues to undertake vital research.