The Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre

Did you know that of all children who die with cancer, 1 in 3 will die not because of the cancer, but because of the side effects of treatment? Worse still, research into reducing these side effects for children is under-resourced, sparse, and inadequate.

Amazing progress has been made in understanding and treating childhood cancers. Today, around 80% of children or young people diagnosed with cancer survive.

But despite advances in curative medicine, little has been done to improve the experience of living through and beyond cancer. Children often receive cancer treatments designed for adults and the impact on their smaller bodies can be severe. They suffer horrible side effects which can be traumatic, permanent, and even deadly.

Meet Ralph

Six-year-old Ralph has T-cell lymphoma.

The treatment he’s receiving is incredibly effective; it began immediately and he is responding well to it. But it’s shocking to see what the side effects are doing to his little body...

The chemotherapy is aggressive and makes him sick. It decays his teeth and five have to be removed. His skin is sore and painful to touch. His immune system is severely suppressed, and he develops sepsis. Ralph’s mum, Cleo says, “No one can prepare you for the side effects. He couldn’t walk, he swelled up from steroids, he would scream in agony.

If the side effects of Ralph’s treatment aren’t controlled properly, there’s even a risk he could die. We urgently need better ways to care for Ralph that will limit his side effects, reduce his suffering, and improve his quality of life and chance of survival.

The care Ralph needs doesn’t exist yet – but it will.

Introducing the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre

Developing effective, kinder care is the best and fastest way to improve the lives of children with cancer and increase their chances of survival. The research that will help us do this is called supportive care.


What is Supportive Care?

Supportive care refers to everything except the treatment of the cancer itself. Supportive care includes preventing side effects of treatment, managing pain and reducing infection. It’s the care that gives children as full a life as possible.


We know research makes a difference. After all, because of research, the five-year survival rate for children’s cancers increased from 73% to 86% between 1997 and 2016. Now, we’re establishing the first Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre (CSCRC) at the University of York to develop effective, kinder care for young people with cancer, which will save lives, reduce suffering, and bring hope.

The CSCRC will enable the world’s leading supportive care experts to carry out high-quality research. It will invest in future supportive care specialists. And it will save lives, reduce suffering and bring hope to young people with cancer – not just in Yorkshire, but around the world.

As part of our commitment to childhood cancer research, we’ve worked closely with experts to identify the huge impact that can be made through improved supportive care. We believe our Research Centre can change the landscape of cancer care and transform what it means to undergo cancer treatment as a child.

Here, a team of experts will conduct high-value research which will rapidly advance the care of children and young people with cancer. Creating the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre is a five-year project which will cost just under £1m. Together, we can make it a reality.

In the last 25 years alone we have invested over £11m into childhood cancer research, to improve early diagnosis, survival rates, treatments and quality of life, and develop experts for the future. Now, we want to take our commitment to the next level,

What impact will the Candlelighters Supportive Care Research Centre have?

In the short term, we will look at how to minimise hospital stays, prevent severe mucositis (mouth ulcers) and prevent nausea and vomiting. In the long-term (5-15 years), we aim to see:

  • A team of new, capable researchers who will take studies to the next level.
  • Fewer children and young people dying from side effects caused by cancer treatment.
  • Better nutritional interventions and improved psychological and social support.
  • Sustainable generation of grant income to continue to produce high-quality research.
  • A Yorkshire-based, world-class centre of excellence in research, impacting global care.

We want to ensure young people and their families are at the heart of our research. To learn more about how you can have your say on the research the centre will do, visit here.

We're currently looking for people, businesses or foundations who may be able to help with funding support for this ground-breaking research. If you would like to be involved or would like to find out more, email [email protected].

Our stories

Candlelighters’ support bus kicks off 2017 with weekly visits across Yorkshire
18-01-17Our stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
After a successful string of trial visits across Yorkshire in Autumn last year, the Candlelighters Bus will now regularly be visiting spots around the region- and we want to invite every family affected by childhood cancer (both currently, and in the past) to join us at our organised locations. Initially launched at the Candlelighters Awards …
Ilkley Candlelighters £38K total to go to research projects
21-12-16Our stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
The Candlelighters Award-winning fundraising group, Ilkley Candlelighters, have truly worked their socks off this year by raising an incredible £38,000. Candlelighters Charity Director, Jo Shepheard, met up with the committee last week to accept a cheque for the total amount. This funding will go towards ensuring the continuation and growth of key research projects into …
Who won the Candlelighters Christmas Raffle?
20-12-16Our stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
On Tuesday 20th December at midday, we were joined at The Square by ‘Captain America’ who valiantly drew the winning tickets, before kindly visiting children on the ward round the corner at Leeds General Infirmary. The winning tickets are as follows: 1.) £500 worth of Toyland Toyshop toys: TICKET NO. 101404 2.) A one-night stay …
Meet York Candlelighters!
09-12-16Our stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
We are delighted to say that the York Candlelighters fundraising group has now been officially established! At the Candlelighters Awards in September, several award winners and nominees from the York area had a conversation about getting together as a group. Within a month, York Candlelighters was formed! The group is a great mix of talented …
Harrogate Candlelighters break record with Casino Royale Ball
14-10-16Our stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
Congratulations to the incredible Harrogate Candlelighters committee for breaking their fundraising record through the organisation of their 2016 ball. The ball, which took place in The Crown Hotel in Harrogate, was Casino Royale themed and raised £42,375. The committee, who recently won a special recognition award at the Candlelighters Awards, would like to thank main …

Your stories

Leeds fans are Marching on Together for Candlelighters
07-02-17Your stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Sean Etherington, and the team at his regular, the Hope Inn Pub, who are helping run a charity event partially in aid of Candlelighters. All the proceeds will be split equally between Candlelighters and Sean’s friend Mark, to support him while he is unable to work due to …
Be inspired by 10 year old Ella’s Year of Challenges
27-01-17Your stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
What an amazing total from Ella’s Year of Challenges! Since finishing treatment, Ella has immersed herself in various challenges to raise money for Candlelighters, and has raised an astounding £3864.54. And she didn’t do it alone! She was supported by brother Edward, mum Jane and dad Chris, and between them, they have embarked on various …
South East Asia Cycle Success for Supporter Jo
27-01-17Your stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
Back in September, we told you all about the story of Jo Richardson and the preparations she was making for her cycling challenge in South East Asia in November. Jo set herself the target of cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia (in intense heat and humidity!) to raise money for Candlelighters, after we supported her friend Eve …
Walker Morris off to a flying start fundraising for Candlelighters
25-11-16Your stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
We were recently delighted to hear that Leeds-based commercial law firm, Walker Morris, had chosen to support us as their ‘Charity of the Year’. Only weeks in, the team have already participated in the Abbey Dash in Leeds, raised money through a Halloween-themed Day… and they’re about the launch their Christmas Raffle! And they haven’t stopped …
Leeds company raise £2,000 from sponsored 21-mile row for Candlelighters
21-10-16Your stories • Posted by Elli Pugh
Food Industry Associates were recently delighted to break the £2000 mark in their incredible rowing fundraiser for Candlelighters. In their words, hear about their achievement.   Leeds based company Food Industry Associates took on a demanding 21-mile row on Friday in aid of Yorkshire’s children’s cancer charity, Candlelighters.   Food Industry Associates, who recruit sales …