Mark Radcliffe loved sitting here…and still does thanks to advances in cancer research

Cancer Research UK

Legendary broadcaster Mark Radcliffe will unveil an engraved park bench in his beloved Manchester – but one unlike any other. 

“It’s an absolute honour to be involved in the Re-Write Cancer campaign. I loved my years studying at The University of Manchester, so it’s the perfect site for the bench." - Mark Radcliffe

In a twist to the ‘in memoriam’ benches that are a familiar site in beauty spots across the country, Mark’s bench attests to his recovery from cancer and salutes the scientists, doctors and nurses who are making game-changing progress in tackling the disease. 

The inscription reads: “Mark Radcliffe loved sitting here….and still does thanks to advances in cancer research.” 

The bench will be revealed to launch the ‘Re-Write Cancer’ campaign – a £20m joint fundraising appeal from Cancer Research UK, The Christie Charitable Fund and The University of Manchester. The campaign aims to help meet the cost of a new £150m cancer research facility. The new building will bring together the largest concentration of scientists, doctors and nurses in Europe to collaborate and accelerate progress for cancer patients. 

The world-class facility - due to open in 2022 - will be twice the size of the Paterson building which was extensively damaged by fire in 2017. Adjoining The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, it has been purposefully designed to foster collaboration and speed up progress on behalf of cancer patients in the North West and across the world. 

Uniting three powerhouses of innovation - Cancer Research UK - The Christie and The University of Manchester - the flagship project will enable Manchester to lead the world in recruiting patients to clinical trials within a decade, resulting in more patients receiving new cancer treatments leading to improved outcomes and survival rates. Clinical trials are vital to find out if new treatments are safe and better than current treatments.  

Mark Radcliffe will unveil his bench in the grounds of The University of Manchester where he studied in the late 1970s. 

He said: “It’s an absolute honour to be involved in the Re-Write Cancer campaign. I loved my years studying at The University of Manchester, so it’s the perfect site for the bench. 

“Facing a cancer diagnosis was extremely tough – it completely turned my life upside down and made me re-evaluate what really matters to me. But thousands of people are in the same boat every year and I was fortunate to receive excellent care at The Christie.” 

Mark, who now lives in Knutsford, was diagnosed with cancer in 2018. The 61-year-old had a cancerous tumour removed from his tongue. The cancer had also spread to lymph nodes in his neck. Yet following successful treatment, he returned to the airwaves in February of this year. 

He added: “Plans for the new research building sound exciting and it’s amazing that such a world-leading facility will be built on my doorstep in the North West. Research into cancer is the key to changing lives now and in the future. Without it I simply wouldn’t be standing – or sitting - here today.” 

Construction will take place in the same location as the Paterson building which was home to the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and other research teams from The University of Manchester. Although much vital research work was salvaged by courageous firefighters, more than 300 scientists and support staff were displaced and are temporarily relocated 13 miles away at Alderley Park in Cheshire. 

The new purpose-built biomedical facility will house several hundred members of staff and attract collaborators from far and wide. Its adjoining of The Christie will enable cells and samples from cancer patients to be taken to the research lab in a matter of minutes – facilitating world leading research which will lead to new cancer treatments.  

Manchester is a place of world-firsts in cancer research, including the first clinical use of Tamoxifen for breast cancer and the first single harvest blood stem-cell transplant. 

Cancer cases in Greater Manchester are significantly higher than anywhere else in the UK – every day 18 people die from the disease in Greater Manchester. This amounts to 6500 people a year – making the death toll around 10 per cent higher than the UK average. 

The ‘Re-Write Cancer’ campaign will deliver the remaining funding commitment of £20m needed for the new building, which is expected to open in early 2022. 

Benches like Mark’s will also be installed in Oldham and Prestwich in tribute to breast cancer survivors Sharon Quennell and Shamilla Mirza. 

Cancer Research UK chief executive, Michelle Mitchell said: “As a fellow former student of The University of Manchester and coming from the North West, I’m thrilled at plans for the new research facility. We’re in a ‘golden age’ of cancer research, with survival rates having doubled over the past 40 years. This has largely been driven by improvements in treatments and early diagnosis, but we still have a long way to go in the fight against the disease. By 2030, the building will be at the heart of our ambition to lead the world in clinical trial recruitment – supporting the development of new and kinder cancer therapies.” 

Roger Spencer, chief executive at The Christie, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for The Christie and its partners. We have an opportunity to create a truly unique research facility integrated within the hospital with scientists, researchers and consultants all working together in one place, developing and shaping treatment and research from basic scientific discoveries through to patient care. It will ensure our patients receive access to the very latest personalised and innovative cancer treatments alongside world-class clinical and scientific expertise.” 

President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: “As an institution and research community we were all deeply saddened by the fire of 2017, but the scope and vision outlined for the new project is very exciting. It is matched only by our ambition to enhance Manchester’s reputation as a world-leading centre for cancer research. 

“With our partners, Cancer Research UK and The Christie, we genuinely believe this facility will be at the epicentre of some of the world’s most important cancer-related innovations in diagnosis, treatments and clinical trials.   

“Having such an esteemed alumnus as Mark, who has been so personally impacted by cancer, launch the fundraising campaign in such a unique way only adds to our excitement." 

Cancer Research UK, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester have worked together for more than a decade under the umbrella partnership of Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC).  

For more information on the “Re-Write Cancer” fundraising campaign visit: cruk.org/rewrite

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on +44 203 469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on +44 7050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

Cancer Research UK 

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. 

  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. 

  • Cancer Research UK receives no funding from the UK government for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on vital donations from the public.  

  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years. 

  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years. 

  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. 

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. 

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

The Christie  

About The Christie 

  • The Christie opened in 1901 and is now one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe  
  • It has one of the largest radiotherapy departments in the world as well as local radiotherapy centres in Oldham and Salford. The Christie was one of the first seven worldwide centres to use MR guided radiotherapy and following the opening of the NHS’s first high energy proton beam therapy service in the summer of 2018 is the only European centre to offer both these forms of advanced radiotherapy. It also houses the UK’s largest brachytherapy service. 
  • The Christie delivers chemotherapy treatment through the largest chemotherapy unit in the UK, as well as via 11 other sites, a mobile chemotherapy unit and in patients’ homes 
  • The Christie is a specialist tertiary surgical centre concentrating on rare cancers, specialist procedures and multidisciplinary cancer surgery. It has the largest HIPEC centre in western Europe, one of the largest robotic centres in the UK and the largest complex pelvic cancer team in the UK.  
  • The Christie is one of Europe's experimental cancer medicine centres and an international leader in research and development with around 650 clinical studies ongoing at any one time. The NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility at The Christie provides a high quality, dedicated clinical research environment for our patients to participate in trials. 

New developments include: 

  • An exciting vision for The Christie at Macclesfield providing radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other vital services close to patents’ homes. 
  • A modern, spacious, patient friendly CT department with the latest 4D CT scanner. 
  • The Christie’s School of Oncology provides undergraduate education, clinical professional and medical education - the first of its kind in the UK 
  • The Christie charity provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. Last year it raised £13.9m. 

Visit www.christie.nhs.uk to find out more or find us on social media @TheChristieNHS 

The University of Manchester 

About The University of Manchester 

Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. We have several world leading experts in this area that are happy to talk to the media #ResearchBeacons [Cancer video

The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is one of the UK’s largest single-site universities with more than 40,000 students – including more than 10,000 from overseas. It is consistently ranked among the world’s elite for graduate employability. 

The University is also one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’ (REF 2014). World-class research is carried out across a diverse range of fields including cancer, advanced materials, global inequalities, energy and industrial biotechnology.  

No fewer than 25 Nobel laureates have either worked or studied here.  

It is the only UK university to have social responsibility among its core strategic objectives, with staff and students alike dedicated to making a positive difference in communities around the world. 

Manchester is ranked 27th in the world in the QS World University Rankings (2020) and 6th in the UK.  It is also ranked 8th in Reuters Top 100: Europe's most innovative universities (2019). 

Visit www.manchester.ac.uk for further information. 

Facts and figures: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/facts-figures/  

Research Beacons: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/beacons/  

News and media contacts: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/