Cancer victim’s £500,000 legacy helps fight against the disease in Leeds

Joseph and Ella Dickinson, pictured in 2006.
Joseph and Ella Dickinson, pictured in 2006.
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Blood cancer research in Leeds has been boosted by a charitable trust established in memory of a much-loved mum who died of the disease.

The Ella Dickinson Memorial Trust is giving £500,000 to help fund the fight against myeloma in the laboratories of the University of Leeds.

Ella Dickinson, whose family own the famous Longley Farm dairy business near Holmfirth, died from myeloma in 2012 at the age of 84.

The money from the memorial trust will fund the work of six PhD scholars alongside consultant haematologist Dr Roger Owen, who headed up Ella’s treatment at St James’s Hospital in Leeds and divides his time between frontline care for patients at Jimmy’s and research at the university.

Ella’s daughter, Sally, said: “He had time for her and she had confidence in him. Mum really wanted to support this.

“She could have just sent a cheque but she really wanted to target it towards Dr Owen’s work. We’ve got real faith in what he’s doing.”

Ella’s widower, Joseph, added: “She was really impressed with the treatment she had in Leeds. Dr Owen looked after her extremely well.

“She had 10 years of pioneering treatments – and I’m sure that without these she wouldn’t have lived so long.”

The first Ella Dickinson scholar is Nicole McDermott, who will join Dr Owen’s team in the autumn to study for a PhD analysing plasma cell cancers.

Nicole, from Teesside, said: “It’s really exciting to know that I will be working towards the end point of helping people to fight disease.

“Without funding, research like this just wouldn’t get done, our knowledge would stagnate, and the new treatments wouldn’t develop.”

Dr Owen said he was “hugely grateful” to the Dickinsons for their support.

Ella was a well known figure in her local community and performed volunteer work with meals on wheels and Huddersfield’s Kirkwood Hospice.