A charity set up in memory of 24-year-old Ella Dawson from Slaithwaite has two new trustees – including a specialist nurse who cared for Ella while she was battling cancer – and a very experienced charity fundraiser.

Ella died in July 2021 following two years of treatment for an aggressive form of blood cancer.

Although Ella received outstanding clinical and medical care following her diagnosis, she noticed there was a great need for psychological, physical, wellbeing, nutritional and social support.

So she set out to create a blueprint of how young adults with cancer could be better supported holistically and after she passed away her dedicated family carried this on with a new charity called the Ella Dawson Foundation.

The charity has just appointed two new trustees – Hanna Simpson and Laura Riach.

As teenage and young adult lead nurse for Greater Manchester, Cheshire and East Lancashire, Hanna’s primary role is to provide expert clinical care, advocacy and support to young people with a cancer diagnosis and offer support, guidance and information to their families, carers and friends.

Hanna met Ella in 2020 when Ella was transferred to The Christie hospital in Manchester and she was Ella’s principal clinical nurse specialist throughout her treatment.

Hanna said: “Ella was incredible. She was a motivated and passionate person who was never defined by her diagnosis but by who she was as an individual.

“The best legacy she could give was her passion for life and that’s what she’s left her family which has allowed them to start the foundation and make a difference to other young people.

“I’m really excited to join the board to share my experience and advice helping to make a positive difference for young adults through and beyond cancer.’’

Laura Riach is a highly experienced fundraising professional who has worked in the charity sector for more than 20 years raising millions of pounds in that time for charities predominantly offering cancer support, including Macmillan along with Maggie’s cancer support centres, and her current role is as head of fundraising and communications at the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

After losing her dad three days after completing her degree in psychology, Laura decided on a career to try to ensure that no-one would have to face the psychological trauma of a cancer diagnosis alone.

Laura met Ella and her mum, Jane, while working for Maggie’s and is delighted to be approached to be a trustee to lend her fundraising experience and expertise to the Ella Dawson Foundation.

She said: “I was privileged to meet Jane and the Dawson family while fundraising to bring the first Maggie’s to Yorkshire. Little did we know that Ella and Jane would be accessing support not long after we opened our doors.

“I was struck by Ella’s positivity and her ethos of living well with cancer, which was so similar to Maggie herself. I was so proud to be asked to be a trustee as I’m hugely passionate about ensuring that young adults are supported throughout their diagnosis and beyond.

“The Dawson family are incredibly inspirational and are already achieving so much in Ella’s name. I feel very privileged to be playing my part and look forward to all that we can achieve together.”

The Ella Dawson Foundation was set up by Ella’s mum, Jane, dad Kevin, sister Tasha and Ella’s partner, Connor Gamble, knowing there was a need for young people with cancer to access health and wellbeing support during their treatment and for up to two years afterwards. 

Jane said: “When you have cancer your life is taken over by relentless, often invasive medical treatments. There’s no question that Ella’s holistic way of living helped her greatly through two years of her cancer journey.

“It gave her a complete sense of oneness and peace in the face of some very tricky treatment. It helped to alleviate her nausea and fatigue and helped balance out the journey she was on by giving her a degree of power over herself and allowing her to live well despite the aggressive treatments. Ella was passionate that holistic support should become part of the standard of care pathway.”

For more on the Ella Dawson Foundation go to https://elladawsonfoundation.org.uk/

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.