This is a straight-forward thank you to Commons Speaker John Bercow who last night co-hosted with me a Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research dinner at Speaker’s House.
The dinner allowed us to bring together leading lights in what might be termed the ‘cancer community’ to discuss the charity’s Trials Acceleration Programme, TAP, a clinical trials network linking 13 hospitals in the UK. It will mean that patients have the opportunity to take part in a national clinical trial and have access to cutting edge treatments at their local hospital, whevever they live within the UK, within shorter time frames.
A lot of the fundraising done in recent years has been devoted to starting this up, and creating the central hub in Birmingham, where an expert team is in place to co-ordinate the delivery of world class clinical trials across the centres.
It might all sound a bit nerdy, but there was real excitement about it last night, not just from the LLR people working on the programme, but from those experts hearing about it for the first time, and spotting the opportunities in relation to other cancers and indeed other diseases.
What most people see of John Bercow is at Prime Minister’s Questions, bobbing up and down trying to keep MPs in order. But ‘in addition to his duties in this House,’ as PMs always put it, he likes to use Speaker’s House to help causes and charities, particularly in the area of children with disabilities, learning difficulties, and also health care.
He was a fantastic and well-informed host, full of praise for the work being done by the cancer experts around the table. It was a fantastic night for the charity and I am grateful to him and his wife Sally for their support and for the welcome they gave us.