Our Flame of Hope Awards are an annual celebration of our most dedicated volunteers and supporters, many of whom have powerful personal reasons for going above and beyond to support our pioneering science. In this article, we hear from this year’s Philanthropy category award winners, who tell us why they’ve devoted time, effort and millions of pounds to back our vital research.

“My husband has terminal cancer but thanks to the practical results of research, we’ve had more time together than we ever expected”

Flame of Hope Award winner: Jill May
Category: Philanthropy Honorary Fellowship

“When I plan fundraising events for Cancer Research UK, I always aim to ensure that those attending learn something new about the fascinating research into this devastating disease. It’s not just about saying, ‘Cancer research is important because we need to save more lives’, which of course is true. It’s also about providing new and unexpected insights into areas of great promise, where the charity is working globally to move the dial. That might include ways of tackling cancer with earlier detection, or improved diagnosis and new treatments – including ones that may not cure someone but could give valuable extra years of life.

“It’s satisfying knowing that I’m contributing something positive to a cause that is critical to mankind” – Jill May

I have personal reasons for wanting to see this happen. My husband has had terminal cancer for eight years but with the help of pioneering clinical trials and other experimental treatments, we’ve had more time together than we ever expected. It’s been a powerful motivation. I’m reminded daily that those extra years are hugely important for patients and families, especially those with young children. Supporting cancer research is mission critical for me and always will be.

When I’m fundraising or raising awareness for Cancer Research UK, I get a warm sensation. First, there’s the satisfaction of putting on an enjoyable event that provides pleasure for those attending. And then there’s the satisfaction of knowing that I’m contributing something positive to a cause that is critical to mankind. That might sound grandiose, but cancer is global and affects everyone, regardless of age, race or background.

Fundraising for cancer research, whatever the scale of ambition, requires personal energy and conviction. Raising money is difficult – there are so many competing demands on everybody’s purse from valuable causes. It’s a matter of working relentlessly with a clear ambition and good humour. None of it is easy, but my goodness, it’s well worth the effort you put in.”

Jill May

Jill May

Over the past decade, Jill May has hosted multiple ambitious events, raised funds through her networks and made personal donations that, by end-2021, will amount to some £1.8 million. We’re delighted to name Jill our Honorary Fellowship winner, which recognises 10 or more years of dedicated service to our charity and cause. Jill’s next fundraising endeavour is the 2021 Cancer Research UK Carol Concert at the beautiful St Stephen Walbrook church in the City of London.

“The gathering of the best research talent from around the world seemed a great recipe for making important discoveries”

Flame of Hope Award winner: The Dangoor family
Category: Transformational Philanthropy

“On a summer’s day in 2012, my wife Judy and I listened intently as two Cancer Research UK researchers spoke with passion and authority about their recent findings into how immune cells detect tumour cells and initiate an anti-cancer response. It was knowledge they believed could lead to a new type of immunotherapy for people facing cancer. Just four years before, my own mother had died from cancer. On hearing from these impressive scientists, our interest in the charity was suddenly piqued. We responded with a donation to support Cancer Research UK’s About Cancer webpages, which provide millions of people each year with reliable and up to date cancer information.

“By helping to share knowledge, you can really empower people” – David Dangoor CBE

Since then, we’ve made several other donations, including £5 million to support the building of the Francis Crick Institute, one of the four research institutes Cancer Research UK helps to fund and Europe’s largest biomedical research facility under one roof. The gathering of the best talent from Europe and around the world collaborating under the visionary leadership of Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse seemed a great recipe for making important discoveries. And five years in, we’re already seeing promising results.

This year, we were delighted to give again to this remarkable institute, this time to promote public understanding of and support for its globally important work. Plans involve developing new public-focused website content as well as accessible and far-reaching digital communications, including a very large LED screen outside the Crick to engage passers-by. It’s our gift not only to the institute, but to the public. By helping to share knowledge, you can really empower people.”

David Dangoor

David Dangoor CBE

With the Dangoor family’s total giving now standing at £9.6 million, and the impact of their philanthropy reaching people across the world, we’re delighted to name the Dangoor family as our 2021 Transformational Philanthropy Flame of Hope Award winners.

Congratulations to Jill May, the Dangoor family and all our Flame of Hope award winners, whose dedication and generosity is having a profound effect on our ability to find and fund vital cancer research.

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