A girl called Sharon: how a charity was born

In 1967, two of our founding members, Mr and Mrs Norris, were featured in an episode of World in Action where they spoke about their daughter Sharon, who was being treated for acute leukaemia. This documentary is now available to watch online, giving you an insight into why the founding members set up Leukaemia Care.

Granada Television produced an episode of World in Action all about the Norris family and their daughter Sharon, who was receiving treatment for acute leukaemia at the Royal Marsden Hospital. After this documentary aired, Mr and Mrs Norris, alongside another set of parents, Mr and Mrs Brown, went on to start the Leukaemia Care Society, or as it’s known today, Leukaemia Care.

With emotional support lacking for patients, let alone parents, the couples were quick to express their mutual feelings of isolation to each other, which are so often attached to a blood cancer diagnosis.

Bill Norris was employed for the Telegraph as a journalist at the time and so took the opportunity to write an article about the glaring lack of care and support provided to parents of children who had been diagnosed with leukaemia. He proposed to start a group to bring about emotional care.

It was with Bill Norris’ plea for help that the founding members were first contacted, some of whom had children with leukaemia and others that had already lost their child through the disease. The inaugural meeting was arranged to take place in the kitchen belonging to Mr and Mrs Brown in Holland Park, London, 1967.

Here the founding members came to a unanimous decision that the aim of the charity would be “to help other parents of leukaemic children in every possible way”. In addition to friendship and an understanding ear, it was first agreed to provide a number of specific services such as baby minding, help with transport or hospital visiting. However, it was quickly agreed that the principal needs of the parents appealing for help was to support them by providing information about the disease and reassurance that they did not stand alone. 51 years on, this original aim and belief of the charity still holds true.

Leukaemia Care was registered as a charity in 1969 and first began as a support system solely for the parents of children with leukaemia, but it quickly went on to expand during the 1970s to care for adult patients. This was mainly due to a great improvement in the medical treatment during the 60s for childhood leukaemias.

51 years on, with Leukaemia Care having celebrated a golden anniversary in 2019, much of the charity’s objectives remain the same. Still a support charity at heart, Leukaemia Care’s services include a free helpline with access to nurses, grants to help with counselling and travel costs, information days with experts and access to over 50 information booklets in a variety of languages.

We are delighted that we can now share the World in Action documentary that led to our founding, and it is available to watch below.

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