Anthony Nolan thanks student volunteers for their incredible lifesaving year

Leading blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan is saying thank you to students from 40 UK university ‘Marrow’ societies, who have recruited over 1,000 students to its stem cell donor register, and raised £26,293 this academic year, despite the cancellation of almost all events due to the pandemic.

‘Marrow’ is the name given to Anthony Nolan’s network of student volunteer groups.

Over the last academic year, since September 2020, lifesaving Marrow volunteers have signed up 1,167 potential stem cell donors to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register. Any one of these students could give a second chance of life to someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder.  

Usually, Marrow would hold around 500 donor recruitment events throughout the year, but this year, due to social distancing restrictions and lockdowns, they were able to hold just two. Plymouth Marrow ran a small socially distanced event in October, just a couple of days before the second lockdown. 

Unable to hold events, Marrow groups used their social media channels and marketing across university campuses to reach out to students at the university, to let them know about the Anthony Nolan register and how they could one day save a life.  

This year’s highest recruiting group were Cardiff Marrow, who recruited over 100 people to the register this year.  

The group has a history of signing up a high number of potential donors. Last year’s committee were presented with the ‘Ethnic Minority Advocate of the Year award’ by comedian Nish Kumar at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards in February, for their work recruiting potential donors from ethnic minority backgrounds.  

Marrow groups hold various fundraising events throughout the year, however due to the pandemic they haven’t been able to rely on their usual fundraising methods and have had to be particularly creative with their fundraising ideas.  

One of these groups is Warwick Marrow, who raised an incredible £3,091 this year.  

Joining the Anthony Nolan register involves a simple cheek swab, but the organisation, postage, and processing of the swab in a lab costs the charity £40 per person.  

Krishna Gokani, Warwick Marrow fundraising officer, said: “This year has been really tough on everyone and we had to find new creative ways of fundraising. Warwick Marrow has been so amazing in keeping us motivated throughout the year and we could not have done it without everyone. We are so excited to see what next year brings!” 

Charlotte Hughes, Marrow volunteer engagement manager at Anthony Nolan, said: “Marrow really are the unsung heroes. This year has been unlike no other, yet they have continued to work hard throughout the year, alongside their studies, raising money and signing up potential donors to the stem cell register. 

“For many people with blood cancers or blood disorders, receiving stem cells from a stranger will be their last chance of a cure, so the work done by Marrow societies is invaluable, particularly because young people are most likely to be chosen to donate. In the last two years, over a quarter of stem cell donations were from donors recruited by Marrow.   To find out more about Marrow, visit www.anthonynolan.org/marrow

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