Friends of Kennington Cancer Fund is closing after raising nearly half a million pounds for cancer research.

Friends of Kennington Cancer Fund was launched in the late 1980s, when Pearl Livett’s husband Douglas was diagnosed with cancer. The news came close to passing away of another family member: Mrs Livett’s sister-in-law Kathlene, who died after a six-year fight with cancer.

Oxford Mail:

For the first two years, funds raised by friends and family during cheese and wine evenings were used to buy TV sets for children's leukaemia wards, but after learning about the new oncology unit in Oxford the charity decided to support its head, Prof Adrian Harris.

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The first cheque, of £1,700 was presented to him in 1990 and is commemorated with a picture against the half-erected clinic walls.

Since then, Prof Harris received one cheque a year from the charity, and over the last 30 years Friends of Kennington Cancer Fund has given him cheques worth £462,000.

Oxford Mail:

On Saturday, November 2, he received the last cheque (for £18,000) during a lunch held at Kennington Village Centre.

Pearl Livett told this paper: “I’m sad, but it is the right time to stop. Professor Harris is retiring next year, so he can use the money we raised this year, but even if we continued, he won’t be there next year to receive a cheque from us. It’s all come together.”

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Prof Harris explained that the funding from the Kennington community has allowed him to take a lead on research resulting in major scientific breakthroughs.

He said: “Compared to large, institutional grants this support might seem tiny, but the pump-prime research makes a huge difference, as with it we were able to test our ideas immediately.”

As an example, he gave the development of a vaccine for malignant melanoma for which the first studies were done with the funds from the Friends of Kennington Cancer Fund.

Oxford Mail:

He added: “Kennington allowed us to make Oxford an even more significant place in cancer research efforts, making a world changing difference in medical science.

“It also means that Oxfordshire patients have access to treatments years before they are available anywhere in the world.”

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To give an impression of the scale of the operation run from Kennington, the charity used 900 bottles of wine, sold 5,000 pairs of shoes (according to Mrs Livett’s son Steve ‘most of them matched’), catered at 49 funerals and provided Kennington and Oxford with fetes, quizzes, cake-sales and endless other activities, from marathon challenges in Sahara to golf tournaments.

Asked about her plans for the future, Pearl said: “I shall find something to do. I need some rest and then I will see who needs a hand.”

Her granddaughter Emma, said her grandmother 'deserves a medal'.