Did you know, that cancer will kill 1 in 3 people in this area? That 1 in 4 of us will develop heart disease and 1 in 5 die from heart failure? That dementia is increasingly common? Nick Stafford has a desire to do something about these frightening facts, which is why he helped form the Hull & East Yorkshire Medical Research Centre Charity in 2000 - which we know it better as The Daisy Appeal.
Nick Stafford came up to work in Hull in 1995 from St Mary’s Paddington. It was evident that there was an appetite for post-graduate research in Hull and that if people pushed hard enough, there could be a Post-Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI); it was established in 1994 at Hull University and Nick became Director of it. Despite enthusiasm, drive and local support, the facilities for research at the time were limited and the best way forward was to fund-raise for buildings and equipment - hence the establishment of the Daisy Appeal. The PGMI had two other positive effects, too; it paved the way for the Hull York Medical School which was established in 2002 (and which Nick worked at as Professor of Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery until retiring 3 years ago, after which he worked in the NHS for 2 years with an honorary title) and increased recruitment and retention of NHS staff.
The Daisy Appeal was incorporated in 2002 with Nick as its Chair and a board which included the late local businessman and philanthropist, Dr Jack Brignall, founder of the Wykeland Group which built Flemingate (among many other local projects), Trevor Boanas, Assem Allam and Andrew Horncastle and Dr. Clive Aber (who has also died). With lots of local support and good will, the charity raised £8m by 2008. This funded the building of the Medical Research Centre (the Daisy Building) at the Castle Hill Hospital site which was opened by Alan Johnson, who was then the MP for West Hull and Hessle and is a patron of the charity. Raising a further £4.5m meant the Jack Brignall PET-CT Scanning centre could be opened, replacing the lorry which housed the scanner before it had a proper building! Now, 2,900 PET-CT scans are carried out every year for cancer diagnosis and this is going to increase as patients with neurological and cardiac diseases are routinely scanned. More recently, the charity has partnered with Hull University and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to build a Molecular Imaging Research Centre adjacent to the Jack Brignall Centre for cancer, neurological and cardiology patients to provide a unique diagnostic facility. But the charity needs a further £1.2m to be able to buy the high-tec scientific equipment for it to function.
Steve Archibald, Professor in Molecular Imaging is working closely with the Daisy Appeal and University in driving this innovative new research forward, which will provide patients with a lab to bedside service. The project is being crucially coordinated by NHS Manager, David Haire. The Imaging Research Centre will house a state-of-the-art cyclotron which can manufacture isotopes to attach to tracers which are used in diagnosing illness at the molecular level so that personalised treatment can be given.
Nick said: “It’s very exciting that, for example, in men, Prostate Cancer does not show up well in ordinary PET scanning, but a new tracer has been discovered so patients who might have been missed before, or were delayed to treatment, are now picked up. There are other new tracers coming along, too - these are exciting times! I was very proud to have been awarded an OBE, but so many people have done so much for this charity that it’s a shame everyone can’t be honoured. There is expertise at the University which is not available elsewhere which means we are ahead of the game. But we still need more funds! We are always happy to recognise people with deep pockets who can afford to buy an expensive bit of kit - but at the same time we are so grateful for the fund-raisers who contribute week in and week out. Ultimately, many people will benefit from this work - not just here in East Yorkshire but in North Lincs and North-east Lincs where about 1/3rd of our patients come from. I’m very proud of the fact that for every £1 donated, 95p of it goes into the charity. Our overheads are minimal and, apart from our administrator, who is paid to ensure the charity functions as it should, everyone gives their time voluntarily. If anyone reading this would like to help in any way in raising funds or donating, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance.”
Nick received his OBE from HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) on March 23rd this year. That’s a day he will never forget but we, too, should not forget this pioneering doctor who’s drive and leadership is having such a positive effect on so many people’s lives, not only today, but in the future.