Published date: 07 October 2022

Childhood cancer survivor and dad raise £7,000 for Young Lives vs Cancer

David Baulch, Head of Project Management Centre of Excellent at NHS Property Services and his daughter, Amelia, ran the TCS London Marathon on the day of her 18th birthday for Young Lives vs Cancer.

David said: "Amelia and I had the pleasure of running the London Marathon on Sunday 2nd October for Young Lives vs Cancer. After 9 months of training and preparation, to finally undertake the marathon was just amazing. The weather forecast leading up to the Marathon had not been great, so we were concerned it would be a very wet day, but it turned out to be a beautiful, warm sunny day, which was just perfect for a marathon and probably added to the number of people that came out to watch.

The atmosphere from the start was just brilliant and there were crowds at every stage but particular highlights were running through Greenwich, across Tower Bridge, which was just a wall of noise, then past Big Ben and finally after 5 hours Buckingham Palace.

To celebrate Amelia’s birthday, she wore a sash saying ’18 today’ and a birthday crown, this all just added to the experience with the number of shout outs Amelia received, plus numerous renditions of Happy Birthday being sung as we ran along.

Overall, I could not have asked for a better day or experience in running the Marathon and I am not sure Amelia could have had a more unique way to celebrate her 18 Birthday.

Thank you to everyone for their support and to date we have raised £7,000 which is an amazing outcome but could not have been achieved without all the support we have received, to which Amelia and I are very grateful."

Amelia's story

Amelia Baulch, from Bexleyheath, Kent, was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was just four years old. 14 years on, and now the sixth former, took on the 26.2 mile effort alongside her dad, David, who works for NHSPS, as they ran the marathon together on Sunday, October 2.

The father and daughter raised an incredible £7,000 for Young Lives vs Cancer, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer, and NHS Property Services' charity partner. The charity supported the family following Amelia’s diagnosis in 2008. 

Amelia said: “My cancer completely turned my family’s life upside down. I remember my whole journey. I undertook two years of gruelling treatment and was fortunate enough to beat this awful disease.

“It was the hardest time in my whole family’s lives, but I feel if we hadn’t gone through that we wouldn’t be the people we are today. It made us realise how lucky we are after cancer – a lot of people don’t get to live life after cancer. It made me feel grateful and have this different perspective.”

Her Dad, David, recalls the moment Amelia was diagnosed: “I can still remember them telling us that Amelia had leukaemia like it was yesterday, it was just a shock. We knew something was bad when the hospital room filed up with medical staff, 10 people we’d never seen before just suddenly appeared and they broke the awful news to us.

“All of a sudden we were in a world that we didn’t understand. It felt like we were making life-changing decisions and that’s what was so scary at the time. And you have an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. You look at your child who is so poorly, you just want to protect them, take this awful illness away and you can’t. You then go through the ‘why us?’”

Amelia went on to have treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital. She had her first round of chemo on Christmas Day. During her treatment the family were introduced to Young Lives vs Cancer.

David said: “Young Lives vs Cancer were brilliant at giving us guidance and advice when she was first diagnosed. We didn’t know what to do to be honest, the medical and then the financial support we got was amazing.
“Not only are you making some monumental medical decisions to save your child’s life, which is terrifying. It's not until you start getting into the treatment protocol that you realise the hidden cost impact of cancer, due to the fact the treatment is over such a prolonged period of time. It was two years and three months for Amelia, so we couldn’t both carry on working, as one of us would need to be a full time carer for Amelia, hospital car parking, the London congestion charge everyday travelling to and from the hospital. It’s not until you are plunged into this world that you realise this impact. Young Lives vs Cancer were great at providing financial advice to help us.”

Young Lives vs Cancer are raising awareness of the extra cancer costs families are facing this winter amid the cost of living crisis. The charity have already found families living with cancer face an extra £600 a month in cancer costs, and this figure is expected to rise rapidly with soaring prices for petrol, food and energy bills.

David said: “It was absolutely brilliant the charity were there. I don’t know where we would have turned to if it hadn’t been. The situation we were in could have been even worse than it was. It’s horrendous enough as it is. I think a situation like this makes you appreciate what you have in the world and you stop taking things for granted. I think it’s made Amelia realise that you only get one chance at life so you should go after it and not let something like this hold you back.”
Whilst David is no stranger to marathon running, with this his fourth London Marathon, it was his first time running a marathon with his daughter.

“For me it’s about Amelia running it, she’s the driving force behind it and I am rightly the tag along. And that’s the way it should be. It will be her 18th Birthday and it’s her story. She’s the one who lived through cancer, she is absolutely amazing and I’m nothing but so incredibly proud of her.”

Amelia, who is studying in sixth form and wants to go on to be a journalist and has a passion for climate change, has now been 10 years cancer free. She said: “We didn’t know how to react or how we were going to cope with cancer until many organisations including Young Lives vs Cancer helped us. What Young Lives vs Cancer do, it genuinely inspires me so much, a lot of families don’t get an after story, and if I can in anyway help contribute to the charity and other young people being supported then I want to do that.

“I will be one of the youngest people running on the day of the London Marathon. When I found it was on my 18th birthday it felt like fate! I truly thought this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to give back to a charity that helped me so much. I am so lucky to have the support of everyone around me.”

Our partnership with Young Lives vs Cancer

In May 2021, Young Lives vs Cancer was announced as NHS Property Services' official charity partner for the next three years, allowing the charity to continue running its valuable Homes from Home initiative which offers a free place for families to stay when their child is receiving cancer treatment.

The Homes from Home are a lifeline for families and can be the difference between being plunged into crisis or being able to stay strong for their child. They are close to principal treatment centres, helping families avoid the extra financial burdens of travel, accommodation and food costs.

In the first year of the partnership, from May 2021-May 2022, NHSPS colleagues raised £50,000 and have a target of raising £15,000 over the course of their three year partnership.