We are celebrating after two of our leaders attended a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace! Emily Wragg, our Chief Executive Officer, and Keith Hardcastle, our Chair of Trustees, were invited in recognition of our work, and they were amongst specially selected guests from across the UK.  

Emily Wragg explains: “We were thrilled to have been nominated as guests at Buckingham Palace. This Garden Party was one of just two held each year. Members of the Royal Family and King Charles were in attendance.  

“Our invitation recognised the work done at Candlelighters, by a wide range of people working hard to support children and their families through a childhood cancer diagnosis. We’re very lucky to have a large number of committed volunteers and fundraisers as well as members of staff, and each of them has an important role to play.” 

Keith Hardcastle adds:  

“We were at Buckingham Palace to represent the support we offer to hundreds of children and their families across Yorkshire who are impacted by childhood cancer. It also reflected our wider work, including our investment into research which supports children with cancer across the UK and internationally.” 

Emily says:  

“Keith and I feel incredibly humbled to represent such an important charity and to be a part of both what we have achieved, and what we will achieve in the future. Families are affected by childhood cancer, not only throughout treatment but beyond – whether their child has long-term side effects or the family is sadly bereaved.  

“Being able to provide vital support for these families during an extremely traumatic journey is at the core of everything we do.” 

Whilst Emily and Keith joined Members of the Royal Family and King Charles at Buckingham Palace, the rest of our team also celebrated the day, hosting parties for children, families and staff, at the Family Support Centre and at Leeds Children’s Hospital. Our families enjoyed food, games and lots of bunting to enjoy this special day for Candlelighters. 

Each year, specially invited guests are invited?to enjoy a relaxing summer afternoon in the prestigious gardens of Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The events are an opportunity for members of the Royal Family to meet and chat to people from many backgrounds who have all made a significant contribution to their community.  

Emily Wragg and Keith Hardcastle have played a crucial role in our expansion and success over the years, including the opening of The Square and The Candlelighters Cottage.  

Emily Wragg joined us in her new role as?Chief Executive Officer in June 2018 and was previously our Deputy Director. She was recently nominated for the award of Public and Third Sector Leader in the Yorkshire Leadership Awards. 

Keith Hardcastle joined the Board of Candlelighters in 2009 and became Chair in June 2020. Keith’s son, Harry, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of three in 2006. Keith leads our Board of Trustees who provide direction, oversight and governance of our charitable activities.  

Last year, Emily and Keith led the creation of a £1 million Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre, in collaboration with the University of York, which will focus on research tackling the potentially life-threatening side effects of cancer treatment for children. This will see internationally crucial research being led from Yorkshire to help save lives, reduce suffering, and bring hope for children diagnosed with cancer.  

As a children’s cancer charity, it is vital that the voices and experiences of patients help guide what we do. We were thrilled when two former patients, Rohan Randhawa and Mathew Bower, joined our Trustee Board last year.

Rohan and Mathew provide incredibly valuable input to ensure children, young people, and families are at the heart of our decisions and plans. Recently, Rohan’s story was shared in the press, helping to demonstrate the importance of Rohan and Mathew’s roles on our Trustee Board.

As a young boy, Rohan’s older brother noticed his hands and feet had swollen up while playing cricket in the garden. His mother took him to A,&E where it was found out that Rohan’s kidneys had burst. However, this wasn’t the most startling discovery of their visit: a small growth had been found on his lymph node, which resulted in a cancer diagnosis.

Rohan, now 27, started chemotherapy and spent many years in and out of St James Hospital, where he first met children’s cancer charity Candlelighters. “The pink t-shirts of all the Candlelighters staff is something that still resonates today and makes me feel at ease.”

Rohan is National Manager for Chance to Shine, a national cricket charity. Before his father passed away in 2016, he donated monthly from his wage to Candlelighters, and he often said to Rohan that he needed to give something back one day.

Rohan has now joined the Board of Trustees at Candlelighters, after side effects from his chemotherapy treatment as a child made him reflect on his traumatic experience with cancer.

“I truly believe that without the emotional support Candlelighters provided me and my family with all those years ago, I might not have dealt with things as well as I did, and I may not be where I am today. The reason I took up a trustee role on the board at Candlelighters is to try do my bit to support young people going through the worst imaginable circumstances. Walking into the Candlelighters Family Support Centre brought back that feeling of comfort and calm straight away.”

Rohan with his older brother, Gurman
Rohan with his wife, Karina

The Candlelighters Trustee Board comprises a team including clinical experts, parents of patients, and past patients to make important decisions on how the charity is run. CEO Emily Wragg says, “We are so grateful that Rohan and Mathew have joined the board and will bring their knowledge of a child’s experience with cancer and the long-term side effects to Candlelighters. They have already contributed so much, and we can’t wait to work with them further.”

Established in 1976, Candlelighters is dedicated to supporting children and their families across Yorkshire who are impacted by childhood cancer. Each year, in Yorkshire alone, over 150 children are diagnosed with some form of cancer. The charity offers family support in many forms, from practical financial support for families and funded holidays to talking therapies, wellbeing treatments and support groups for siblings.

We’re pleased to welcome Rohan to the team!

Our team are celebrating after being accredited as one of the Top 100 Great Places to Work in the UK. We placed number 36!

CEO of Candlelighters, Emily Wragg says: “This is a huge achievement for us and reflects the positive actions of each employee in creating a supportive working environment. Our donors, volunteers and families who benefit from our services deserve the very best from us, and this external accreditation confirms that we are doing the right things.” 

Emily explains: “The Great Place to Work Survey is an employee experience platform built upon 30 years of research and data, designed to measure the success of workplace culture. A number of aspects were measured, through an anonymous online survey, including support, camaraderie and leadership. We were thrilled to hear that our average score across the key measures was 97%, which is fantastic compared with an average score of 78% for the non-profit sectors.” 

Each year, in Yorkshire alone, over 150 children are diagnosed with some form of cancer. We offer family support in many forms, from financial support for families and funded holidays, to talking therapies, wellbeing treatments and support groups for siblings. 

We have invested in childhood cancer research for 45 years and just last year invested over half a million pounds which helps children with cancer across the UK and internationally. We also invest in the wards at Leeds Children’s Hospital by funding posts and equipment, as well as having our own team of Family Support workers based at the hospital. 

We are so pleased to announce that our latest Company of the Month is Barratt Developments!

This month, we would like to thank the team at Barratt Developments Yorkshire West as they completed another fundraiser to take their fundraising to an incredible total of over £60,000 raised for Candlelighters!

Last month, eight members of the Land and Technical teams from Barratt Developments Yorkshire West came together to each accumulate five kilometres a day for five days by running, walking or cycling. The team managed to raise a fabulous £1,075, which will be matched by Barratt’s Group Charity Committee, taking the final total to £2,150 raised for the charity.

Last year marked Barratt Developments Yorkshire West’s longstanding five-year partnership with Candlelighters and they have now raised an impressive £62,641 in that time.

Speaking about the challenge, Gavin Birch, Managing Director at Barratt Developments Yorkshire West, comments: “We’re extremely proud of our Land and Technical teams for taking part in another fundraising activity for Candlelighters.

Taking part in runs, walks, and cycles of this length can be challenging, especially five days in a row. Sticking to that commitment, especially during the recent stormy weather, is commendable.

Our partnership with Candlelighters is incredibly important to us, and we’re so pleased to have kicked off the year with another fundraising activity for them.

Over the years Barratt Developments Yorkshire West have been involved in a range of fundraising activities to get to this amazing total. They have taken on the challenges of the Great North Run and York 10k, hosted annual golf days, and supported Candlelighters at some of their events.

They also demonstrated wonderful support for Candlelighters at Christmas with volunteering to wrap Christmas presents and at the Candlelighters Christmas party!

Iain Blackwood Hobbs, Partnerships Executive at Candlelighters, said: “Barratt Developments Yorkshire West has been so committed to the Candlelighters’ cause throughout our partnership with them, and we’re so pleased to see them complete another fundraising challenge for us. “£2,150 for Candlelighters from the 5k a day challenge will go a long way to provide practical, emotional, and financial support to so many families in Yorkshire who are affected by childhood cancer. We would like to thank Barratt Developments Yorkshire West for their continued support over the last five years, and we look forward to continuing our partnership throughout 2024.

We are so proud to announce that our CEO, Emily Wragg, has been shortlisted for the Yorkshire Leadership Awards!

Emily Wragg, CEO of Candlelighters, was shortlisted for the Public and Third Sector Leader at the Business Desk Yorkshire Leadership Awards!

Emily has played a crucial role in Candlelighters’ expansion and success over the years. One of her early milestones was the opening of our Family Support Centre, The Square, providing our families with a space close to the hospital to receive support including talking therapy, massages and other well-being services. Emily spearheaded the establishment of The Candlelighters Cottage, a home-from-home environment for families traveling to receive treatment for their child. She also expanded our services to be accessible across the county by introducing a community model to widen support from the hospital to across Yorkshire.

Last year, Emily led the creation of a £1 million Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre in collaboration with the University of York, which will focus on research tackling the potentially life-threatening side effects of cancer treatment for children. This will see internationally crucial research being led from Yorkshire to help save lives, reduce suffering, and bring hope for children diagnosed with cancer.  

Emily’s leadership style is characterised by trust, flexibility, and empowerment. She believes in removing barriers to success, fostering a non-hierarchical structure that encourages collaboration and innovation. Every member of Candlelighters is encouraged to contribute their ideas, without fear of failure, making Candlelighters a safe and creative space for testing and learning. Emily’s leadership was put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her decisive actions, transparent communication, and unwavering support for both staff and the families we serve ensured that Candlelighters not only weathered the storm but emerged stronger. 

Candlelighters has been awarded the external accreditation of being a ‘Great Place to Work’ with the global authority on workplace culture, the Great Place to Work organisation. When surveyed, 97% of the staff team said that Candlelighters was a great place to work, versus a company average of 54% across all other organisations in the UK, a testament to the strong culture Emily has built. 

Emily says, “I’m so grateful to have been shortlisted for such a prestigious award. I feel incredibly humbled to lead such an important charity and to be a part of both what we have achieved, and what we will achieve in the future. Families are affected by childhood cancer not only throughout treatment, but beyond – whether their child has long-term side effects, or the family are sadly bereaved. Being able to provide vital support for these families during an extremely traumatic journey is at the core of everything we do.” 

“My son’s cancer nurse also treated my sister, as a child.” 

“My sister had leukaemia 19 years ago. Seeing the same nurse, when my son was diagnosed with cancer, brought all those memories flooding back.” 

In 2005, when Georgia Lewis was eight years old, her sister Bethan, aged three, was diagnosed with leukaemia. After an almost three-year battle with the disease, she is now a healthy 22-year-old.  

But when Georgia’s six-year-old son, Albie, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumour in July 2023, Georgia met the same nurse, Sally, who treated her sister at Leeds General Infirmary, to begin Albie’s cancer treatment. 

The York-based family consists of mum Georgia, dad Chris, son Albie, and daughter Iris, who had only been born six months prior to her brother’s cancer diagnosis.  

Georgia says “Chris took Albie to A&E after finding blood in his urine. They were there all day while I waited at home with Iris. I received a phone call from Chris to say the doctors had asked me to go to the hospital so they could tell us the results of Albie’s ultrasound. 

The shocking cancer diagnosis was hard to deal with, emotionally. We cried a lot, mainly on our own, or together when the children were asleep. It was so difficult having to act ‘strong’ when inside we were heartbroken for our little boy.?

Practically, it was difficult to cope, juggling the demands of a small baby with hospital visits. Georgia was breastfeeding at the time and says that she felt like she was torn in two. 

Financially, it was also tough. Husband Chris couldn’t work as Georgia didn’t drive, so he had to drive them to and from hospital. And as she was breastfeeding, she couldn’t stay overnight in the hospital which was also difficult, emotionally.  

Georgia explains: “On top of all this, paying for travel costs like petrol and parking made things hugely difficult for us. Without the support of children’s cancer charity Candlelighters during those few months, I’m not sure what we would have done!” 

In a curious twist of fate, Georgia was re-introduced to Sally, the nurse who had treated her sister Bethan 19 years earlier. “It was uncanny that our paths would cross again, but I also found it very reassuring, knowing that Albie was receiving excellent care.”   

Albie’s treatment was also a re-introduction to Candlelighters. She first met us when she was a young girl, visiting her sister in hospital. Now, Georgia and her family began to access many of our support services to relieve the stress of a childhood cancer diagnosis.  

I met them again with Albie when we came to the Oncology Day Unit to find out his official diagnosis. One of the team made us a cup of tea and spoke to us whilst we nervously waited. It was lovely to speak to somebody who wasn’t a doctor or medical professional as it had been a busy 24 hours with Albie being prodded and poked.” 

We aim to help families of children with cancer emotionally, practically, and financially, during their journey and beyond. Bringing light and hope to a family going through their darkest times is at the core of our values. 

When Albie was admitted to hospital, the consultant came to see us for a chat, so Elaine, one of the Candlelighters team, came to sit with Albie while we went to a private room. After a very intense conversation with the consultant, it was so lovely to come back to Elaine and Albie having a pillow fight. He still laughs about that now!” 

In September 2023, Albie was in hospital for surgery to have his kidney and tumour removed. His family live an hour away from the hospital and they wanted to be as close to Albie as possible.? 

Georgia explains: “We phoned Candlelighters and they offered us accommodation in The Cottage, which is their home away from home, just a few minutes’ walk from Leeds General Infirmary. It was so lovely to have a warm and inviting room to go back to after a long day in the hospital.”? 

She adds: “Since being diagnosed, Albie has struggled a lot with anxiety but thanks to Candlelighters,?talking therapist Sarah is able to offer 1:1 therapy for Albie to help him with this. We are so thankful that he can get the help he desperately needs, that we wouldn’t be able to afford without Candlelighters’ support.” 

This International Childhood Cancer Day, Thursday February 15 2024, we are raising awareness of childhood cancer and encouraging the public to consider donating towards, or fundraising for, families struggling with a childhood cancer diagnosis. 

Georgia says: “The support from Candlelighters has been a godsend. It has lifted us in the hardest of times and it’s given us a friend to speak to when we needed this. It allowed us to be near our child during a huge surgery, and meant that I no longer felt torn between my two children as I could be there for both of them when staying in The Cottage.” 

CEO of Candlelighters, Emily Wragg, says, “International Childhood Cancer Day is an important time to gather and show our support for the children and their families affected by cancer. Around 150 families across Yorkshire receive the terrible news every year that their child has cancer.  

We are continually humbled working with so many brave children, parents, and grandparents.  We are also so thankful that the people of Yorkshire and across the UK donate and fundraise to ensure these children and their families receive the support they need to get through such difficult times.”  

We are so pleased to announce that our latest Companies of the Month are Platinum Asset Protection and Frontline Security!

This month we would like to recognise the amazing supportive efforts made by Platinum Asset Protection and Frontline Security. We are amazed that the two companies have been supporting Candlelighters for over a decade!

Frontline Security and Platinum Asset Protection have shown their dedication to raising funds and awareness for Candlelighters with cause-related marketing and by donating a percentage of both companies’ end-of-year annual profits.

Both companies have generously arranged to give 2.5% of their annual turnover to Candlelighters. In January, 2024, Frontline Security 247 Ltd donated an incredible total of £5000 and Platinum Asset Protection Donated a fabulous total of £2,860 to Candlelighters. Business Development Director, Charlie Iffans, visited The Square in January and the two companies made their amazing combined donation of £7,860.

But their support doesn’t stop there! Since 2014, the two companies have also been involved in various fundraising activities such as charity fun nights, creating challenges and courageous teams have taken on the Yorkshire Three Peaks twice and cycled in appalling conditions! Furthermore, they donated over £600 of CCTV installations for Candlelighters.

In the last ten years, their support has raised an incredible £29,884 and they plan to continue completing fundraising activities throughout the year!

Chris Salt, Philanthropy and Relationship Manager for Candlelighters, gave insight to Platinum Asset Protection and Frontline Security into the difference their donations have made to our families – “To give you an idea, your gift is enough to fund all children’s talking therapy sessions for patients and siblings for 5 months of the year giving them access to a safe space to talk through their thoughts, feelings and emotions.”

We are so grateful for the committed efforts of both companies and cannot wait to see what they can achieve throughout 2024!

We are so pleased to announce that our latest Company of the Month is Clarion!

This month we would like to celebrate our new Company of the Month, Clarion, who have raised over £10,000 this year for Candlelighters! We are so pleased with their incredible fundraising efforts for this year.

They have found creative ways of raising funds for Candlelighters like ‘Will you be my Valentine’ where employees anonymously gifted a cupcake to a fellow colleague. They have also held numerous events throughout the year including the Eurovision Sweepstake, a World Book Day competition and they participated in the fun of Pink It Up week.

Some of their courageous staff members have taken part in our challenge events like the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, 150-mile challenge and the Candlelighters abseil. Struan Mackenzie, one of their employees, and his friend embarked on the Wainwright Challenge and raised a fabulous £2,649 for our families!

Clarion have also helped us give our families an extra special Christmas this year. They held their own Christmas Advent Raffle, donated lots of selection boxes for the children at the Candlelighters Christmas party and at the hospital and also made up wonderful gift boxes for our parents on the wards to spread the Christmas spirit.

Clarion plan on offering another year of amazing support for Candlelighters and they hope to beat the total they raised for 2023 with some wonderful events lined up for 2024. We can’t wait to see what they achieve and are so grateful for the excellent effort they have made so far. Donations and commitment like theirs allow us to continue providing and developing our emotional, practical and financial support that we can provide for our families.

‘We are delighted to be able to support Candlelighters in the work that they do to help families across the region affected by cancer. We have been fortunate enough to have attended their Business Collaboration events this year and learn first hand about the support, therapies, events and care packages that they offer as well as the facilities that they have available at The Square and The Cottage.

The new research project led by the University of York is another example of why fundraising for Candlelighters is so important and something that we are proud to be able to support at Clarion.

From bake sales, to sweepstakes, Christmas raffles to abseiling down buildings, walking up mountains to sending surprise gifts to colleagues – fundraising is a big part of Clarion and we have loved working with the team at Candlelighters and look forward to another year collaborating in 2024.’ – Lindsey Wrenn, Partner at Clarion

We are so pleased to announce that our latest Company of the Month is Yorkshire Spa Retreat!

We are delighted to announce that the fabulous Yorkshire Spa Retreat are our Company of the Month! Having joined Club Candlelighters last year and pledging to donate at least £5,000 per year for the next three years, the team have really gone above and beyond this year raising a staggering £49,331!!!

The money was raised from two big fundraising events; a gruelling 598 mile, six day cycling challenge that CEO Miles Dewhurst, Friend Andy Mair, and Gary Molloy of Leisure Resorts took on, as well as the unforgettable Yorkshire Spa Retreat Ball. The cycling challenge saw Miles, Gary and Andy cycle along the coastline of Portugal in September and in a challenging and unforgiving climate, but all their efforts were absolutely worth it as they raised over an incredible £21,500!!

The Yorkshire Spa Retreat Ball was held in November and was a night to remember, with very generous guests donating and purchasing some exciting auction prizes, all to the tune of a fantastic £27,751!  Well done to Fenella and Jacqui for pulling together an amazing evening that everyone enjoyed.

Miles Dewhurst and Fenella Ratcliffe-Hobson, Directors at Yorkshire Spa Retreat said, “We are so proud to support Candlelighters. The work the team do is truly amazing, and it’s a pleasure to take part in these events to raise money for such a wonderful Charity.

Thank you to Yorkshire Spa Retreat for all your efforts this year, helping to save lives and bring comfort to families affected by childhood cancer.”

Shortly before Christmas 2022, Jo and Tom Adams, from Baildon, West Yorkshire, were given the worst news for a parent: their daughter, Amelie, had been diagnosed with cancer. 

After a couple of trips to the doctors, suspected tonsilitis, and a visit to the local hospital, a nurse arranged for Amelie to have some blood tests. An hour later, they received a call saying to bring her back for a blood transfusion. This was the first time the word “leukaemia” was mentioned. 

Within three days, Amelie had been diagnosed and had begun a two-year treatment plan. 

Jo, Amelie’s mum, says “We feel like we’ve wiped some of this time from our memories now. It was such a big shock.” 

Leukaemia is normally treated with chemotherapy, which can cause several debilitating side effects on a child’s body, including hair loss, weight gain or loss, persistent nausea and vomiting, and a sore mouth and gut, which is often extremely painful. 

In the first few days, we met one of the Candlelighters Family Support Workers. She was brilliant and explained all that was available to us through Candlelighters, from emotional to practical and financial support.” 

Amelie was born during lockdown, and Jo and Tom were looking forward to 2022 being their first normal Christmas for their new family. But when Amelie was diagnosed, that all changed. 

Jo doesn’t remember going Christmas shopping that year. “We didn’t even think about Christmas. We hadn’t put our tree up. It was all a bit of a blur.” 

As Amelie was on treatment over Christmas, it was unsure whether the family would be in the hospital on Christmas Day. This made it impossible for them to plan with their family, and especially difficult for anyone to visit, as Amelie’s immune system was weak, and it was important she didn’t catch anything. “My mum had a cold a few days before Christmas, and was really worried about seeing her. We wanted Amelie to be with her family, but it was so hard.” 

Soon after her diagnosis, Amelie, Jo, and Tom received an invite to our Candlelighters Christmas Party. We aim to make Christmas as magical as possible for children and families coping with childhood cancer, and our annual Christmas Party provides a space for families to make wonderful festive memories together. 

As soon as we walked in, we felt special.” Tom says. “Amelie was just getting back onto her feet after her treatment, she was on steroids, and she hadn’t been her usual, smiley self in weeks. We finally saw her smile again at the Candlelighters Christmas Party.” 

For Jo and Tom, the party had come at the perfect time. It gave them a chance to get into the festive mood, and see Amelie have fun for the first time in what felt like forever to her parents. They didn’t have to worry about planning, or making sure she wouldn’t catch anything. We, and the other families at the party, understood what they were going through. 

There was so much to see – each time we walked round a corner, there was something new. There were so many characters – stormtroopers, Elsa and Anna… The big hall was jam-packed full of activities and music. Everyone made Amelie, and all the children there, feel so special.” 

This year, the Candlelighters Christmas Party will take place on Sunday 3rd December. “The party gave us the boost we needed to get us through the next phase of her treatment. Seeing Amelie on the dancefloor was amazing, and we started to see the light.” 

We would thoroughly appreciate supporters funding our mission to bring festive magic to children facing cancer, by donating towards the cost of a party place. Each place at the party costs £32, and any amount helps to bring joy to a child with cancer at Christmas. 

Emily Wragg, our CEO, says: “All year round, we see the devastating impact that childhood cancer can have on a family. Christmas can be an especially difficult time for a family with a child who has cancer, and we want to give these families happy memories that last a lifetime. It’s all thanks to the generosity of the public that we can be there for families when they need support, and every pound donated helps bring Christmas magic to a family facing childhood cancer.”