Bloodwise is the second largest cancer research charity in the UK, working since 1960 to beat all blood cancers.
Introducing Pelham Allen, Ex Chair of Bloodwise
Pelham was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2000, and successfully treated with a stem cell transplant, then a very new and innovatory form of treatment. When he had fully recovered, he returned to his professional career of corporate turnaround, but now specialising in NHS hospitals. In 2012 he was appointed Chair of London Cancer, the integrated cancer system for North and East London.
What does Bloodwise do?
The Charity’s purpose is to promote research into all aspects of blood cancer, and advance public understanding of blood cancer. There are 137 different types of blood cancer, which together are the 5th most prevalent type of cancer, accounting for approximately 10% of UK cancer deaths. When the charity was formed in 1960 almost every diagnosis of blood cancer was terminal. Now two thirds of everyone diagnosed with blood cancer will survive for at least five years. We are determined to stop people dying from blood cancer, to make patients’ lives better and to stop blood cancers from happening in the first place.
Why did you become Chairman?
When I was approached in 2013 I couldn’t say no. I have a strong connection with cancer in general and blood cancer in particular, and was excited by the vision of the Charity and the energy and commitment of the Chief Executive, her team and the thousands of volunteers who support and fundraise for us. I am keen to play my part in the battle to beat blood cancer, so that future generations will not have to experience the fear and distress of undergoing intensive treatment whilst knowing that many fellow patients will die prematurely.
What do you most enjoy about chairing?
I am not a naturally non-executive chair. I believe that organisations should be run by their Chief Executives, but need a strong and fully engaged chair to appoint, advise, support, encourage and be a critical friend to the Chief Executive. I enjoy working with my Chief Executive, and also harnessing the talent and wisdom of a diverse group of Trustees. Most importantly, I enjoy being part of an organisation that is working hard to make a difference.
Do you have any key tips or lessons to share?
Don’t try and be Chief Executive. Do make sure you have a good group of Trustees, and are getting the best out of them. If you suspect a difficult decision needs to be taken, you are probably right: take it and move on.
Why did you join AoC?
However experienced you think you are, there are things you don’t know and have not seen before. Being a Chairman is lonely – it is good to have access to people with different relevant experience to ask and talk to.