Ex-England footballer, blood cancer survivor and Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list just 1 week before he rides the Tour de France for the fifth and final time.
18 years after Geoff was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and given just 3 months to live, he will lead a team of 18 amateur cyclists as they take part in The Tour 21 from Saturday June 19th to Sunday July 11th. By cycling all 21 stages and 3,384km of the Tour de France, the team aim to raise over £1,000,000 for national blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia, the first ever official charity partner of the Tour de France in the UK.
Cure Leukaemia recorded a £1,700,000 fundraising shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Tour 21 team have already raised over £753,000 towards their £1,000,000 target. All funds raised by The Tour 21 team will be invested in the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) which has been solely funded by Cure Leukaemia since January 2020.
TAP is a network of specialist research nurses at 12 blood cancer centres located in the UK’s biggest cities and a facilitatory hub based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This network enables accelerated setup and delivery of potentially life-saving blood cancer clinical trials to run giving patients from a UK catchment area of over 20 million people access to treatments not currently available through standard care.
Ever since Geoff was declared in remission in 2005, he has dedicated his life to raising funds to give blood cancer patients hope of survival through access to clinical trials. He was instrumental in the formation of TAP in 2012 and since 2015 has raised funds for Cure Leukaemia which was co-founded by the man who saved his life Professor Charlie Craddock CBE.
Speaking of the MBE, Geoff, 56, said: “I am immensely proud and humbled to have been awarded an MBE and my thoughts immediately turned to all of the people that have helped me get here over the years. There are so many people I need to say thank you to because what we have achieved for blood cancer patients across the UK as a team is remarkable but there is so much more work that needs to be done. I hope that this news helps raise further awareness of Cure Leukaemia so that it can be established as the leading blood cancer charity in the UK.
“After so many hurdles, next week myself and the team will finally head to France to ride The Tour 21 and we are firmly focused on ensuring we raise and surpass £1,000,000 because every penny will directly benefit the 38,000 people who are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in the UK each year.”
Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin continued: “Geoff has been the driving force behind Cure Leukaemia’s growth since 2015 and he has played an instrumental role in establishing us as a national charity via our funding of the Trials Acceleration Programme.
“Geoff’s continued passion and commitment to helping blood cancer patients is inspirational and I am so thrilled that he has been awarded such a well-deserved and prestigious honour.
This fantastic news is perfect timing with Geoff due to start his fifth and final Tour de France Challenge this Saturday. And I know that he will be leading from the front in the coming weeks to ensure that he and his Tour21 teammates achieve their £1,000,000 target with those funds benefiting blood cancer patients across the UK.”