Last month, the family of Leeds United and England football royalty, Norman Hunter visited the labs at the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to see first-hand how their fundraising is making a difference.

In June 2022, Norman’s friends and family held their second charity golf day in his memory, with 48 teams competing at Horsforth Golf Club, where Norman was a member for many years.

Norman’s family wanted to fundraise after he sadly died aged 76 in April 2020 after contracting COVID-19. For seven years before his death, Norman was treated at Leeds Cancer Centre after being diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), a rare type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.  

After the success of the inaugural Norman Hunter Golf Day in 2021, Norman’s loved ones decided to make this an annual event in his memory, to support research into CLL at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and at the Leeds Institute of Medical Research, University of Leeds.

The second annual golf day took the Hunter’s fundraising total over £75,000, thanks to ticket sales, sponsors, a raffle and auction on the day.

Money raised from the event has already helped fund a machine called a ‘magnetic cell sorter’ which can identify mutated, treatment-resistant cells early on and allow for the purification of healthy cells for further analysis; together these will better inform the treatment of patients who have CLL.

Darren Newton, Lecturer in Haematology and Immunology at the University of Leeds, told us about the difference this piece of equipment is making to helping them find better treatments and potentially a cure:

“We’re so grateful to have this fabulous new cell sorter which is a fantastic addition to our academic haematology laboratory. It increases the power of our research, meaning we’re able to sort different populations of cells more quickly and efficiently and to obtain results on rare cell populations in a much shorter space of time.

Thanks to this we have access to more valuable data that allows us to achieve a more holistic picture of what’s going inside a patient’s body. In the long-run this data will help us answer the big research questions about why some people respond better to certain treatments, why some people might relapse earlier and how to maintain a healthy immune system during treatment.”

Norman’s wife Sue recently visited the University of Leeds to hear more about the vital work they’re doing with her daughter Claire, she said:

“It was incredible to come and meet Darren and the team and see for ourselves the difference our fundraising is making patients with CLL like Norman. Thanks to the care Norman received from Professor Hillmen and the team, he was given the chance to enjoy many more years with his loved ones. We hope this money will help give other people living with cancer more precious time with their family and friends.

 We have been absolutely blown away by the support we received for our golf day, and never imagined we would raise so much. We are really looking forward to the third annual golf day this Summer which will be even bigger and better!”

The third annual golf day will be held on 9th June 2023 at Horsforth Golf Club. You can email [email protected] to find out more.

All funds raised will support continued research into Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) helping scientists and researchers at the University of Leeds and Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust get closer to finding curative treatments.

You can support the 2023 Norman Hunter Golf Day here