Wednesday 7 July 2021

History of The Lennox Children's Cancer Fund

The Lennox Children's Cancer Charity

In The Beginning

The charity's founder, Vincent Fitzmaurice, grew up in East London and has always been a family man with a devotion to children. While still at school, Vincent joined the West Ham Parish Church choir and became heavily involved in community work through the church. When he left school, he began working for the children's charity Barnardos at their head office in Barkingside where his keen interest in music and the arts prompted him to organise various fundraising events for many different causes.

Very few people in this world are not touched by the plight of children and their families who face a massive struggle every day to defeat the diagnosis of cancer. Vincent was no different. While watching the families and children at a charity carol concert, it struck him that although these children had many disabilities and problems to overcome, that night they were really enjoying themselves and became part of a 'normal' family again! This left a deep impression on Vincent and gave him the idea to start up a new children’s charity.

Vincent set about discovering as much as possible about how he could make a positive difference. By talking to medical experts and researching all available material, Vincent found that more children die from cancer than from any other childhood disease. Over 1,500 children under 16 are diagnosed every year with cancer in some form or another. Armed with this information Vincent set about establishing an organisation that would help to improve the child oncology units of various hospitals throughout the country.

During it's first few years, the charity provided funds to purchase state of the art equipment for hospitals like the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in East London. This is something that the charity continues to offer to this day. Through contact with hospitals and their individual social workers, Vincent began to hear many stories of families who couldn't afford the special foods their children required to back up the treatment or the costs of getting to hospitals and hospices that offered the crucial care their child desperately needed. He discovered the sad truth that many families struggled to find even the most basic of support, and so the charity was expanded to provide help directly to families in need.

What's in a name?

We are often asked where the name 'Lennox' comes from. The charity's first meetings were held at West Ham Parish Church in Plaistow and eventually a small desk area in the chapel became the charity’s first office. The warden of the church was a man named Geoffrey Lennox and he was a great believer in helping children with cancer. Vincent was very good friends with Geoffrey, and after he died Vincent was inspired to find a way to help children in need too. Sadly, Geoffrey died shortly before the charity was founded, so when the time came to choose a name, it seemed only fitting that the charity was named after him - and so we became ‘Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund’.

Moving Forward

Today we provide direct practical, financial and emotional assistance to not just the children, but also their parents and siblings families. Something that not many other organisations or charities do. This could be as simple as paying an electric bill for a family who spend all their time caring for a sick child and are unable to earn an income at the same time. It could be to cover travel expenses to enable a child to receive life-saving treatment, or even just to provide a little cash for a dying child to have that final birthday celebration with family and friends. Lennox also offers respite breaks for children and their families to spend some time away from the burden and trauma of cancer. These breaks are an opportunity for the whole family to escape the treatment, hospitals and doctors and spend quality time together. 

The Future

Respite Breaks are constantly in demand and so there is always a waiting list and we would love to support more families in this way. We also have more requests for Care Grants now than ever before and our fundraising team work hard every day to increase the number of families we’re able to support each year.

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