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40 years of fighting childhood cancer

2019 marks 40 years of NECCR and we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Over the past 4 decades, we have raised with your support over £30 million which has helped to establish the North East as world-leaders in childhood cancer research.

Back in 1979, survival rates for children with cancer were very low, with 75% of children not surviving. Now, thanks to research carried out since and continuous improvement in therapy, that figure is reversed, with 80% of children diagnosed with cancer surviving the disease.

Take a look at our journey.


A group of families got together who had all experienced having a child with cancer. Some parents had lost children, while others were grateful that their children had overcome disease. Their aim was to fund a researcher in the region to focus on childhood cancer, as at the time there were none in the North East. The photo is of a plaque on a bench which sits outside the RVI hospital in Newcastle, with names of the founding families and children.

Around this time Professor Sir Alan Craft, a key figure in paediatric oncology, became involved with research into childhood cancer and NECCR. When a colleague at the Royal Victoria Infirmary went on maternity leave in the 1970s, Craft stood in to look after the children with leukaemia, which started his road to specialising in paediatric oncology, a field that at the time was relatively new. He helped shape the charity over the first 30 years, as well as set up and direct a world-leading oncology service for the North of England.


The first children’s cancer run was organised by King’s School in Tynemouth after pupil Chris Peacock was diagnosed with cancer. It was held in Gosforth park and a few hundred people took part. A volunteer committee was set up to manage the organisation of the run, and today, many of the original members are still volunteering their services. The first run was expected to raise £1,000 but actually managed a whopping £23K. Greggs sponsored this run and every subsequent run since providing their famous Greggs picnic at the end.


Newcastle Racecourse becomes the home of the run due to the popularity and numbers involved and does so for the next 30+ years. The 5, 3 and 1-mile route takes runners through the woodlands of Gosforth Park, over fields and along the strait of the racecourse to the finish line where they receive their medals.

Our sponsor Greggs

An early photograph showing the gingerbread mascot of our long-lasting sponsors Greggs, who each year support the Children’s Cancer Run, and provide the post-event picnic for runners.



The 1 mile run was introduced into the Children’s Cancer Run, allowing children under 7 to run for the first time.


Cancer expert Dr Steve Clifford and pathologist Dr David Ellison are recruited to the Children’s Cancer Research Unit in Newcastle to develop its childhood brain tumour research programme. Professor Clifford is now Director of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.

The ‘Muddy’ year

2000 was also the year of the muddy run, with kids braving torrential downpours in one of the biggest runs to date.


The Children’s Cancer Run was forced to move to the coast for this year at the last minute due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. South Shields was the destination, finishing on the beach with a glorious sunny day.


The Northern Institute for Cancer Research is founded, bringing together all cancer researchers at Newcastle University, with NECCR as a founding funder. These multi-disciplinary research teams work to advance our understanding of childhood malignancy. They translate these findings into improved treatments.


We hit a record-breaking 10,000 runners for the first time, making us one of the biggest single charity run events in Europe.


Chris Peacock (pictured right) the pupil at Kings school who had Cancer of the kidney and who inspired pupils and staff to raise money in the first ‘sponsored’ run, takes over from David Wood to become the new Chairman for the committee. Here pictured below is Colin Peacock and Sir Alan Craft, one of the founders of NECCR and children’s cancer research pioneer.

Celebrity support over the years

Many local celebrities have helped promote the run over the years, including Steve Cram, Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan.


The NECCR Research Laboratories were opened, a world-class facility inside the £5.5m Wolfson Centre for Childhood Cancer Research at Newcastle University. The Centre is the largest dedicated paediatric oncology research centre in Europe with more than 100 researchers in post, working on clinical trials, individualisation of treatment and new therapies. Find out more about our researchers.


This year the Children’s Cancer Run hit a record amount with a huge £288,000 raised for research.


We turn 40 years old, celebrating by holding lots of special fundraising events including our first children’s cancer bike ride along the River Tyne, our first ever fun run in Carlisle and a black-tie ball to round off the year. Why not join us at one of our events.

We have raised over £30 million to improve treatments for childhood cancer, and the charity has played a key role in making Newcastle a leading research centre in the fight against it. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. There is still a long way to go and progress is only possible with your help.

Find out how you can help us fight another 40 years

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