Health campaign prompted by journalist's dying wish

A new national project to educate children about bone marrow donation will be launched today following the campaigning work of journalist Adrian Sudbury who died of leukaemia.

Sudbury, 27, spent the last few months of his life last year campaigning for better education and information for young people on the importance of bone marrow donation through his “baldy blog”.

The Huddersfield Examiner reporter’s blog reached the attention of prime minister Gordon Brown and health secretary Alan Johnson, both of whom met Sudbury before his death in August 2008.

The Register and Be a Lifesaver Project, run by The Anthony Nolan Trust and NHS Blood and Transplant, will be taken to schools and colleges to inform sixth form students about the value of blood, organ and bone marrow donation.

The project is backed by the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The talks are being delivered by volunteers in two pilot areas – Bristol and South Yorkshire – before it is considered to be rolled out to schools nationally.

Sudbury’s mother Kay will be visiting Cotham School, Cotham Lawn Road, in Bristol today to launch the project along with David Gate, whose stepdaughter 15-year-old Yvette Gate is searching for a bone marrow donor after being diagnosed with aplastic anaemia.

Bristol has been chosen as a pilot area for the campaign because of its diverse population.

Sudbury contracted two rare forms of cancer in November 2006, days after being promoted to a digital journalist role at the Examiner, taking a lead role on its website.

At one point he made a recovery, and returned to work, but the bone marrow transplant was ultimately unsuccessful. He died on 20 August last year.

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey and Five News presenter Natasha Kaplinsky were among the figures who praised his courage at a packed memorial service in Sheffield.

“Baldy” won a worldwide following for his blog about the illness and his campaign, and a string of awards including digital journalist of the year at the 2008 Regional Press Awards.

The judges said “the subject matter for this journalist is exceptional, compelling and emotional” and praised the blog’s professionalism.

His father, Keith, said at the memorial service last October: “The beauty of Adrian’s campaign is its simplicity – educate 17 and 18-year-olds so they can make an informed choice. I hope we can all continue to work to see Adrian’s wish come to fruition.”

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