In the running to beat blood cancers and disorders


LIBRA supporters donned their running shoes and took part in the Hackney Half Marathon on Sunday 26th September, raising around £4,000 for our Going for Gold Campaign.

Joe Cruttwell, Justin Moll and Nicky Lessware, all aged 33, teamed up to run in memory of their dear friend Vanessa Brooke who they lost to leukaemia last year. Following the event, we spoke to the runners to find out more..

How did you hear about LIBRA?

Nicky: In 2019, our amazing friend Vanessa was diagnosed with leukaemia for the second time, at the age of 32. We visited her when she was undergoing treatment at King’s and saw first-hand the amazing care she was receiving. When she tragically passed away in September 2020, her family and husband Tom asked for donations to go to LIBRA in aid of King’s haematology department. It sounded like the perfect cause – a small organisation targeted specifically at funding the pioneering treatments for blood cancers at the hospital. The money will go directly to where it’s needed.

What inspired you all to run for LIBRA?

Nicky: Vanessa. A year after Vanessa passed, it felt like a fitting tribute to try to raise a few bob in her memory. She was an incredible, unique person, full of joy and madness! Totally unencumbered by what other people might think of her, she just revelled in life with her friends and family, her animals, Teeds (Tom) and crisps. I’ll always remember her with laughter.

Sadly enough, my mum was also treated by the same team at King’s last year, and it again brought home the tragedy of blood cancer and what an urgent mission the special team at King’s has – especially during Covid. It’s just a small gesture, but it felt like a nice tribute to Vanessa to help LIBRA out however we could.

Was this your first half marathon as a group?

Justin: Having known each other since we were around 17, we’ve been running together on and off since our early 20s and this is the fourth half marathon the three of us have done all together in the last few years, often trying to raise money in the process for a cause, like LIBRA, that’s very close to our hearts.

Did you all put in some training?

Justin: We have indeed. Joe and Nicky have been on it since the start of the year and this was their second half marathon of 2021. They also ran the Brighton Marathon a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been playing catch up, which was reflected in our times, but especially given the cause we all decided to take training and the run seriously from the start.

How did you enjoy the event?

Joe: The event was great fun. It was lovely to all run together and know we were supporting such an important cause. The Hackney Half has great support all the way round which helped in the tough moments, and the last few miles were pretty tough!

You have raised an incredible amount, how does that feel?

Joe: We’ve raised close to £4k so far and are hoping to get over that milestone! The generosity from friends and family has been amazing, so a massive thank you to everyone who has donated. We’re just happy to have raised some money for LIBRA and the team at King’s who supported Vanessa so well whilst she was ill. We know it’s a small thing in the grand scheme of all the work that goes on, but we hope it can be helpful to provide care for others who are going through such a difficult time.

If you would like to sponsor Joe, Justin and Nicky you can visit their online fundraising page here.




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