Two people from Northwood who have been raising awareness of the need for more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) stem cell donors for blood cancer patients have won a prestigious national award.
Pankaj Anand and Shrijal Patel won the BAME advocate award at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards (ANSAs).
Pankaj and Shrijal received their award at a ceremony held at the Tower of London on November 22. They joined guests for a canapes and drinks reception at the event, which was hosted by author and TV presenter Lucy Siegle.
The ANSAs are held annually to celebrate, recognise and thank the outstanding supporters who keep the pioneering blood cancer charity moving forward. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges from Anthony Nolan, chaired by the charity’s chief executive, Henny Braund.
Inspired by Kaiya Patel, a six-year-old girl who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia earlier this year, Pankaj and Shrijal, who both have daughters in Kaiya’s class, joined the #CureKaiya appeal.
Pankaj arranged an awareness and donor recruitment event at his workplace, Barclays HQ, which included NHS Blood and Transplant. The event inspired 40 potential donors to join the register and raised awareness on stem cell and bone marrow transplants.
Spurred on in the knowledge that just 20 per cent of patients from Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds will find the best possible match, Pankaj and Shrijal also organised recruitment events at City University, one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the UK.
Pankaj and Shrijal and their network of parents from Kaiya’s school committed a great deal of time and energy to help diversify the Anthony Nolan register inspired by Kaiya and recognised their efforts would have a lasting impact on the Indian, and minority communities in the UK.
One such event was a stall at an Asian music event attended by 12,000 fans at Wembley Arena, which helped them reach thousands of young people and encouraged potential donors to join the register.
Pankaj said he was delighted.
He commented: “For some reason, until now the message hasn’t really landed within Asian and Black communities, so it’s been overwhelming to see so many Asian, Black and Minority Ethnic people step forward and actively register to be potential donors. I think the momentum built from the #CureKaiya campaign has hopefully already made a material difference to the chances of patients from BAME backgrounds to find a suitable match.”
Shrijal dedicated the award to Kaiya.
She said: “I feel immensely proud at how our whole community came together at this time of need for our friend’s daughter, from far and wide all across the world, helping in any way they can. Each person has been moved and humbled by the amazing courage of this very special six-year-old little girl. She and her family have touched the hearts of many and raised unprecedented awareness globally in the BAME community, which will save many lives going forward.”
For more information, go to www.anthonynolan.org/awards