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Heathrow launches fundraiser to fight pancreatic cancer

Heathrow operations manager inspired to organise month-long fundraiser after wife Becky's ongoing treatment at Royal Free Hospital

Calvin Cummings with wife Becky

A manager at Heathrow has organised the airport's first ever month-long fundraiser after his wife was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Operations manager Calvin Cummings was inspired to drum up some much needed funds to aid medical research into the rare form of cancer, which has benefited wife Becky, 33, who has received treatment at Royal Free Hospital Sheila Sherlock Liver Centre since 2012.

The doting husband launched the August fundraiser with a target to raise £350,000, with airport departments uniting forces from food and beverage retailers to air traffic controllers, to contribute in different ways to the Royal Free Charity.

Diane Ryan, Fundraising Manager at the Royal Free Charity; Sameh Ibrahim, Operations Director for The Restaurant Group; and Calvin Cummings, Operation Manager at Heathrow Airport who organised the month-long fundraiser

The 41-year-old manager said pancreatic cancer is one of the most underfunded forms of cancer in the UK, adding: “With August set to be Heathrow’s busiest month this year and so many of our retailers willing to participate, there is a real opportunity for our passengers to make a real difference to pancreatic cancer research.

"I have seen first-hand the dedication and care of the Royal Free Hospital’s staff, and I know this is a very worthy cause that will impact the lives of a lot of people.

“I have always been proud to work at Heathrow, but am more so today with so many of our partners stepping up and finding generous ways to contribute.”

Calvin Cummings, Heathrow airport operations manager, with wife Becky, who inspired the fundraiser due to her own battle with pancreatic cancer

Passengers eating, drinking, and flying into any of the terminals will also be joining to help fight the condition.

Stores such as Pret A Manger will donate 10p for every soup bought; Fortnum & Mason will give £1 for each transaction this month; and air traffic controllers will donate 10p for each flight that lands one minute late or more in August and 1p for those that land on time.

A total of 500 purple collection boxes have also been placed throughout the terminals or donations can be made via a Just Giving page.

The Royal Free Charity, which raises money for research and patient care at the RFL’s three hospitals, collects funds for the hospital’s research into pancreatic cancer, including finding new methods of diagnostic testing for early detection and the creation of an artificial pancreas using stem cells.

Diane Ryan, fundraising manager at the Royal Free Charity, said: “One reason pancreatic cancer is so difficult to treat is that it rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, and so is rarely detected until it is fairly advanced.

"So we are funding research into diagnostic tests that could enable earlier diagnoses by GPs.

“The generosity and support of Heathrow staff and passengers in helping us fund research is a real opportunity to change lives and boost survival prospects in the future.”

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rates of all cancers in the UK.

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