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Cancer survivor’s dedication to charity earns national praise

A DEDICATED volunteer who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer as a child has received a national award from Cancer Research UK in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cause.

The charity’s annual Flame of Hope Awards acknowledge remarkable efforts in fundraising and volunteering made by people from all walks of life.

James Tyler from Cardiff scooped the ‘Event Volunteer of the Year’ accolade, beating off stiff competition from across the UK.

He felt inspired to become a volunteer after surviving Rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare cancer which formed at the back of his left eye when he was just three years old.

He said: “I was diagnosed in the early 80s when treatment for this type of cancer was in the early stages with only a 10% survival rate. But thanks to research, I’m still here now at 41.

“I always wanted to give back, so I started volunteering at Race for Life events over four years ago as a marshal. Now, I help with the set-up of events across Wales, South West and the Midlands.”

James picked up the award at a ceremony in London hosted by Cancer Research UK’s chairman, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.

An audience at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall heard how he has shown exceptional dedication to Cancer Research UK as a volunteer at the charity’s calendar of events.

He said: “The feeling at an event is electric – there are so many emotions and it’s inspiring hearing so many people’s cancer stories.

“I was asked to speak on stage across the Welsh events last year about my own experiences. Sharing my story has really helped me come to terms with what I’ve been through.

“Once you are part of the Race for Life volunteer team, it is like having a second family. There is so much support and care in the team.

“I volunteer at the events as I really enjoy being there, making a real difference in my own small way.”

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The Flame of Hope awards give us the opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to our enormously generous volunteers and supporters for the fantastic work that they do.

“Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work in to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives but that’s only possible thanks to the commitment of our supporters and volunteers, without whom it would not be possible to fund outstanding scientists, doctors and nurses.

“Without any government funding for the work we do, Cancer Research UK needs to ensure that people understand why their support is so important and how we can beat cancer together. Today 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. With the help of volunteers and supporters and by building the strongest possible team and working collaboratively, we can achieve the charity’s ambition of 3 in 4 people surviving their cancer by 2034.”

James was among a total of 55 individuals and groups from all across the UK recognised at the awards ceremony.

Ruth Amies, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, said:

“Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.

“These awards are our way of honouring incredible people like James who give their time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet ask for nothing in return.

“It’s thanks to the support of the fundraising public and our amazing army of volunteers that we can continue to make a real difference and bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”