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2021: a year in review

2021 has proved to be another interesting and challenging year for us all.  

We entered the year in another national lockdown, and events and research programmes continued to be impacted by the pandemic.  

But with the help of our fantastic supporters, we’ve continued to help save lives in Yorkshire.  

As we adapt to life after lockdown and a year that has seen healthcare professionals begin to face the backlog of cancer treatments and diagnoses, Yorkshire Cancer Research remains committed to saving 2,000 more lives in the region from cancer every year.  



The beginning of 2021 saw those invited to take part in cervical screening urged not to delay during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Cancer Wise Leeds, a programme funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and delivered in partnership with Leeds Cancer Programme, produced a Safe Screening for Cervical Cancer video to help address worries about attending screening appointments and raise awareness of the safety measures that GP practices have introduced.  

Dr Andrew Robinson, GP at Garforth Medical Practice, said: “It is incredibly important that you attend your cervical screening when invited and aren’t put off by coronavirus or by concerns about the capacity of the NHS.” 


It was announced that people taking part in the pioneering Leeds Lung Health Check would now be offered the option of an additional scan for kidney cancer.  

Every year, around 150 people in Leeds are diagnosed with kidney cancer. Around 6 in 10 people with kidney cancer do not experience any symptoms, and are often only diagnosed during tests or another condition or reason.  

The Leeds Lung Health Check offers a special type of x-ray called a screening CT scan that can detect very early signs of lung cancer. Scans take place in a mobile unit that travels to easy-to-reach locations in the city.  

Those taking part are people aged 55-80 who smoke or used to smoke, as they are at the highest risk of developing lung cancer. People in this group also have a high risk of developing kidney cancer, and the additional scan means there is an opportunity to find kidney cancer at a very early stage, when it is easier to treat.


In March 2021, we premiered our Vaping Demystified documentary. The 30-minute film tackles common misconceptions about vaping and provides smokers with the information they need to make an informed decision about using vaping products.  

In the nine months since the film was first released, it has been viewed half a million times and has reached people across the globe.

Yorkshire Cancer Research advocates the use of vaping as a safe and effective stop smoking aid and is working to improve access to these products for those looking to quit smoking for good across the region.  


In April, we teamed up with Welcome to Yorkshire to launch Tour de Walkshire.  

The campaign encouraged people across the region to walk, run or cycle in support of the charity. More than 600 people signed up, and over £120,000 was raised to help fund vital research in the region.

Paul Vinsen, a former hotel manager from Beverley, walked twice the distance of the 79-mile Yorkshire Wolds Way. The 75-year-old was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2019 and walking regularly became a way of coping with his diagnosis and treatment.  

Paul raised more than £500 for the charity and walked a phenomenal 181 miles as part of Tour De Walkshire.   


A survey commissioned by Yorkshire Cancer Research found that millions of Brits have an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude in life.  

The study of 2,000 adults found that 37 per cent don’t think bad things will ever happen to them, with a third feeling that Covid would simply pass them by and 14 per cent thinking that cancer would never happen to them.  

A spokesperson from the charity, which commissioned the study, said at the time: “No one wants to spend their lives worrying, but thinking bad things will never happen could leave you unprepared.  

“Things like cancer – and recently, Covid-19 – can affect anyone, so people should be doing all they can to reduce the risk where possible, look out for signs and symptoms and take part in screening when invited.”


A ground-breaking stop smoking programme, which has the potential to save up to 2,000 lives and 4,000 hospital readmissions, was launched across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.  

The QUIT programme is being delivered by South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System in partnership with Yorkshire Cancer Research and local Stop Smoking Services.

Every hospital patient in the region over the age of 12 years who smokes will now have access to nicotine replacement treatments (NRT) and specialist stop smoking support during their hospital stay from 45 trained Tobacco Treatment Advisers funded by the charity.  


In July we launched our new brand identity. The charity created a stronger, clearer identity to help increase its recognition and deliver more impact for those living in the region.  

The new logo highlights three important aspects of the charity’s work – research, Yorkshire and coming together. The logo has helped to differentiate Yorkshire Cancer Research from other organisations and helps make the brand more recognisable and memorable.  

The brand refresh marked a key step in the delivery of the charity’s strategy to reach 2000 fewer cancer deaths a year in Yorkshire.



August 1st was Yorkshire Day, and we marked the occasion by launching the Big Yorkshire Photo Shoot.  

People across Yorkshire were encouraged to dust off their cameras and submit their photos of the region. Both professional and amateur photographers were welcome to enter, and 12 winners were chosen by a panel of judges.  

Judges included photographer Joe Cornish, Bradford-based GP and TV doctor Amir Khan and journalist Christine Talbot.  

The winning entrants were featured in the charity’s 2022 calendar, which is available to buy in our online shop, and proceed from the sale of the calendar will help fund research to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer in Yorkshire.  



The charity opened the doors to a new shop in Ripon in September.  

The shop was officially opened by Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research and Professor Mat Callister, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.  

The cathedral city shop is the fourth addition to the charity’s retail network, joining high street stores in Tadcaster, Knaresborough and Northallerton. It is expected to raise £100,000 a year to help fund life-changing research across Yorkshire.  



To mark our second year as official charity partner of Leeds United, we invited fans to nominate a deserving friend or family member who had been affected by cancer to win hospitality tickets to see the Whites play at Elland Road.   

In October, we announced the 10 successful nominees who would receive tickets. So far, four winners have attended their matches, with the rest set to attend in the new year.  

The month also saw the launch of our Challenge90 campaign, which runs throughout the season and encourages fans to take part in 90 minutes of exercise – the length of a football match – to improve their health and fitness and lower their risk of developing cancer.



In November, we projected 2,000 stars onto Ripon Cathedral to celebrate the launch of our ‘Yorkshire Stars’ Christmas campaign.  

The stunning projection on the cathedral’s west front was made up of 2,000 individual stars to represent the number of lives that charity aims to save from cancer every year in Yorkshire.  

In return for a donation, stars can be dedicated in celebration of those who have recovered from cancer, in recognition of those living with cancer, in tribute to those who care for people with cancer, or to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer.  

The stars are added to an online Yorkshire Stars Christmas tree, and each star is hung on a real tree at the charity’s Ripon shop.  



The end of the year marked the third anniversary of the Leeds Lung Health Check. Since the pioneering trial began, 6,650 people have been scanned and more than 200 cancers have been diagnosed.

The majority of cancers have been found at an early stage, allowing those diagnosed the opportunity to access life-saving treatment. Many patients diagnosed through the programme have gone on to be treated with surgery or a short course of radiotherapy and have recovered well.  

Professor Mat Callister, who leads the trial, said: “Most people are reassured that their scans are normal, but each week we are finding people with early-stage lung cancers that they were completely unaware of. By finding these cancers early, we are able to offer life-saving treatment. We’re hugely grateful to Yorkshire Cancer Research for their continued funding of this important programme.”


A big Yorkshire thank you

A huge thank you to each and every person who has volunteered, fundraised and donated this year. Here are a few of our wonderful fundraisers.  

  • Mandy Moody tackled the Yorkshire Three Peaks to raise funds for the charity.  
  • Mike Carthy shaved his head and raised £5,000. The 64-year-old began growing his hair and beard at Christmas last year, before finally shaving it off in April.  
  • Former school friends Hannah Tyler-Graham and Kate Aikman raised more than £2,500 after completing a charity skydive.  
  • A group of friends from South Yorkshire took on the Virtual London Marathon. They decided to walk the 26.2 miles after their friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019.  
  • Aurav Vinta, a 10-year-old boy from Wakefield, has been raising funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research by writing a poem every day for a year.  
  • Members of the ‘Lifting Gears Products/Cycles in Motions’ cycle team have been back on their bikes and have raised more than £1,000 by donating their winnings from competitions throughout the year.  
  • After his colleague was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, headteacher Liam Jackson took on a 100-mile cycle challenge to raise funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research.  
  • After receiving treatment for thyroid cancer, 17-year-old Ellie Radshaw raised £3,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research with a sponsored haircut.
  • Mirfield Netball Club raised more than £1,000 after completing a lockdown distance challenge in memory of their teammate’s mum.  
  • Alfie Moore, a 10-year-old from Barnsley, auctioned his Premier League 2021 sticker book to raise funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research as several members of his family have been affected by cancer.  
  • Andrew Garside, from Helmsley, raised an incredible £6,000 by completing the Dalesman Ironman Distance Triathlon.